Phillippe de Lombaerde, Fredrik Söderbaum, Jens-Uwe Wunderlich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Interregionalism is deeply rooted in the foreign policies and external relations of the EU. Interregional cooperation today not only encompasses trade and aid but also political dialogue, cultural relations and even security cooperation. Although the EU’s official ambition has been to formalize and institutionalize its interregional relations with other regional bodies or organizations (so-called ‘pure interregionalism’), in practice there are a bewildering variety of interregional or group-to-group relations on display (Hänggi 2006; Baert et al. 2014). The EU is rapidly evolving as a global actor and while doing so it has been trying to export its own civilian and normative values. Interregionalism is an important tool in this process, contributing to the EU’s policy of fostering regionalism worldwide, not only in the triad (Europe, North America and East Asia) (De Lombaerde and Schulz 2009). Through interregionalism, the EU and its regional others enhance their presence, gain recognition, tighten institutional cohesion and define identities. Interregionalism, therefore, occupies a special position in the construction of regional actorness in global affairs (Wunderlich 2012). However, the link between interregionalism and regionalism is both complex and underexplored (Baert et al. 2014; Doidge 2007). Much depends on the type of interregional relations, and the balance of other forms of cooperation, which appears to play out differently in different regions. All this leads to a number of research questions that should be addressed by the academic literature, including is there a preference for interregional relations in EU’s foreign policy? If so, for what reason(s)? What are the consequences of such a preference? What is the role of interregionalism in the broader context of EU’s external policies? How are expressions of regionalism related to expressions of interregionalism? Does the sui generis character of the EU lead to a sui generis character of EU interregionalism?
This chapter provides a general overview of the evolution of the field, the key conceptual and analytical debates, as well as the main research questions that drive the research agenda. Emphasis is also placed on identifying the main gaps in the field and suggesting directions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe SAGE handbook of European foreign policy
EditorsKnud Erik Jørgensen, Åsne Kalland Aarstad, Edith Drieskens , Katie Laatikainen , Ben Tonra
Place of PublicationLondon (UK)
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4739-1519-0
ISBN (Print)978-1-4462-7609-9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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