New publication: Gabrielle W. Cusson, « EU-Brazil in Global Governance: the case of biofuels », CEFIR Working Paper, N° 6, December 2018, pp. 1-16.
In the broad framework of the international talks between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur regarding a potential trade deal, many sensitive issues have come up as obstacles to negotiation, such as agriculture and biofuels. As the main agriculture powerhouse in Mercosur, Brazil has made clear that the trade deal would pass only if the EU would accept more generous import quotas for several commodities, including bioethanol, which is derived mainly from the culture of sugarcane and corn-crops. It is used in a wide-range of products such as biochemicals, bioplastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial products (solvents, paint) and, increasingly, as a biofuel for transport. Bioethanol, as an alternative and renewable energy, has the potential to meet some of the world’s energy needs, but its adverse social and environmental effects are considerable. Therefore, there is a need for better governance related to biofuel production, use, trade and cooperation.
However, Brazil-EU collaboration on biofuels has a deeper history on both bilateral and trilateral levels to promote biofuel production in underdeveloped countries. In this framework, environmental and social issues related to this specific agricultural production did not seem to engender the same kinds of debates. In a context where the EU-Brazil relationship on energy security and sustainable development is part of a political project aimed at consolidating their respective status as powers, it is relevant to reflect on the following question: How does this struggle affect the EU and Brazil’s power-seeking strategies?
The purpose of this paper is therefore to investigate, in a critical perspective based on an alternative conception of power, how biofuel can be mobilized as a foreign policy tool in an important emerging area of global environmental governance, through the notion of norms ideas and material capacities diffusion. The analysis will cover a period of 11 years, going back to EU –Brazil’s first strategic partnership (SP) on renewable energy in 2007 to the more recent trade negotiations in 2018. This article will focus on the EU-Brazil bioethanol relationship on interregional (EU-Mercosur) and the trilateral levels (EU, Brazil and Mozambique) and demonstrate how they can mobilize biofuel as a foreign policy tool. From a critical perspective, we will analyze the differences between the official discourse and the realities on the ground.
This sixth issue of CEFIR Working Paper 2018 is available as an attachment.
Ce sixième numéro de CEFIR Working Paper 2018 est disponible en pièce jointe.
About the author
Gabrielle W. Cusson is a PhD Candidate at the Liège University (ULiège) and a researcher related to the Center for International Relations Studies (CEFIR). She specializes on emerging powers’ South South cooperation strategy in the field of agriculture.