The European Union and the South: Relations with Developing Countries

By Stanley, Robert W., Jr. | Military Review, March/April 1999 | Go to article overview

The European Union and the South: Relations with Developing Countries


Stanley, Robert W., Jr., Military Review


THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE SOUTH: Relations with Developing Countries by Marjorie Lister. 232 pages. Routledge, New York. 1997. $24.95.

With the end of the Cold War, Europe has been trying to define itself. The European Union (EU) has begun to see itself as more of a world player and potentially a counterbalance to the US status as a single world superpower. While Europeans have achieved some success in establishing a single economic policy, they have had increasing difficulty in establishing a "collective" foreign policy. Historically, European interest has concentrated first and foremost on Africa. This book concentrates on the EU and its relations with the "South"-the poor, undeveloped countries of the Southern Hemisphere, particularly former colonies and sub-Saharan Africa.

Marjorie Lister's purpose is to make a case for increased European involvement in developing countries because of their central importance to Europe's future. By the end of the book she further defines her thesis as the development of a "EurAfrican" construct as a spiritual dimension to revitalize Europe. She supports her arguments by examining the EU's foreign policy (or lack thereof), Europe's colonial history and its recent relationships/treaties with developing countries.

The EU is in the difficult position of being an institution that consists of sovereign states which have interests outside of the union. This essentially places it in the position of having, at best, a lowest-commondenominator or passive foreign policy. The argument is also made that the EU has a vast network of external relations but no coordinated or coherent foreign policy. This best describes the EU's current trend. The EU has a series of bilateral agreements with other nations and regions as well as multilateral agreements that make up primarily an economic "foreign" policy.

Lister's brief description of the colonial history gives the reader a cursory basis from which to examine current EU relationships. In Africa, the colonial relationship was marked by economic exploitation, "civilizing" the natives and leaving the African continent dependant and largely marginalized. …

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