This article addresses three questions: why there was a surge in regional cooperation projects in Latin America in the last decade; how to characterize the current multi-faceted scenario; and how to make this complexity work. After a review of six theoretical perspectives, an original conceptual approach is proposed: "modular regionalism." This credibly answers the three questions and offers policy recommendations.
From 2003, the Lula administration has started a discourse and a practice of Brazil as a major international player. However, the conversion of a giant economy and political activism into regional and global power status has eluded Brazil so far. Labels such as great power or leader do not fit it. This article suggests that the problem is not with Brazil being unable to tick all the boxes but with the definitions that we use. Hence a call for new mental categories that better capture the surge of Brazil and other emerging powers in the twenty-first century. Drawing from the business literature, Brazil can be better understood as an international manager. ). Over the next fourteen years Brazil has been broadly perceived as a decisive actor regionally, and a significant player globally. However, the conversion of a giant economy and political activism into actual, tangible regional and global power status seems to have eluded Brazil so far. So how can Brazil's emergence and rise in power be characterised? And how can their actual impact over regional neighbours be captured? As the opening piece of this special issue on 'Latin American responses to the rise of Brazil', this article has two objectives. First, it critically reviews the existing literature on the rise of Brazil and power-related labels in order to illustrate the key features, assets and limitations of Brazil's power display. Second, in doing so the article also sets the stage for, and provides some interpretative tools to read the subsequent individual country case studies.What rise of what power? is a question with important theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, and this is related to the first aim of this article, the question underpins general concerns in foreign policy analysis as well as more specifically Brazilian preoccupations. In the former case, it allows reflections on what a country wants in/from the international system and what are the best available strategies and instruments to achieve these goals. In the latter, it helps understand Brazil's dilemma on what to do to have its power capabilities noted internationally but at a relatively low cost. On the practical side, and this has more to do with the second aim of the article, the different possible answers to the question may generate different perceptions and therefore different responses from Brazil's regional and global partners. To understand what kind of capabilities, material and immaterial, a country possesses, and in what areas, political, economic, military, it can project them abroad is vital to assess relative positions and power, a key consideration in foreign policy choices.The concept of power and the ways to compare it -and necessarily to measure it somehow -are central to international relations as practice and as an academic
Democratic consolidation was the top priority of re-democratized Argentina and Brazil. Regional integration was also part of this goal from two perspectives: from the outside, through a treaty that diminished the scope for political manoeuvring by the military and increased international support for the incumbent administrations, and; from within, through encouragement of a proactive role for business in integration that would give it democratic legitimacy, while, at the same time, exercising democratic practices. Argentine and Brazilian political classes expected to combine these two aspects but soon had to face business reluctance. Government-business relations in the construction of Mercosur reflected government attempts to balance the trade-off between the approaches from without and from within. Although business was largely excluded from the strategic formulation of integration, in a democratic context, governments have to accommodate societal interests. This occurred through a significant overlap between powerful business interests and the executive's plans. The achievement of integration helped consolidate democracy and the choices made by political elites drove forward the democratic process.
Twenty years after its creation MERCOSUR is not a common market yet; its regional parliament has virtually no competence; its first enlargement has been pending ratification for five years. However, MERCOSUR has delivered democratic stability, increased trade flows and international visibility to its members. This article proposes a historical‐institutionalist approach to reconcile more and less optimistic appraisals. The historical component suggests that MERCOSUR has evolved according to the evolution of national interests and agendas. The institutional component suggests that the limited and peculiar institutionalisation affects MERCOSUR's functionality and prospects. The article first reviews the historical evolution of MERCOSUR, then concentrates on the current agenda including the accession of Venezuela, the question of the regional parliament and the completion of the customs union, and finally explores the challenges that competing regional blocs pose to MERCOSUR. The conclusion suggests that institutional deepening might take place via parliamentary and judicial developments.
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