Discovering The Icebergs Of The EU Inter-regional Actorness in Asia: The EU As An Unique Regional Integration Model In The Eyes Of China And India

  • Abstract:
    The European Union is likely to differentiate itself from other international actors. It claims to be ‘unique’ and characterized by several distinctive features such as for example the EU’s model for regional integration. In the process of defining itself, the EU mainly focuses on self-perception. Recently, the study of external perception has been claimed as an essential missing element in the EU identity building process. At the same time, the EU’s inter-regional actorness in Asia suffered lately from relevant weakness. This was reflected, for example, in the EU’s switch to bilateral negotiations following unsuccessful region-to-region negotiations to establish the Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN, the rejection of the EU in its attempt to join the members of the East Asia Summit or by the observable fatigue within the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). This research tries to understand the puzzle of the EU’s efforts as an inter-regional actor in Asia, while it aspires to one day become a global power. The author does so by analyzing the way in which two Asian emerging powers, China and India, perceive the EU’s regional integration model. The recent surveys conducted among the Chinese and Indian elites, academics, media and public opinion constitute the bases of the analysis. The paper establishes also an important, very often missing, link between perceptions and their role in foreign policy-making.