The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) have developed the most comprehensive and institutionalized interregional security partnership in the world. This is a puzzling development, given their limited competences in the field, and the modest achievements of their security cooperation. The literature has provided substantial empirical research on how security cooperation has unfolded. However, why the EU and ASEAN started to cooperate in the first place, and why these efforts have been sustained remain unexplored.
Drawing from Resource Dependence Theory (RDT), this paper argues that the EU and ASEAN cooperate because they need access to each other’s resources, in order to safeguard their autonomy and fulfill their mandates. For the EU, engaging with ASEAN and the ASEAN-led security architecture enhances its legitimacy and recognition in a distant region, where it seeks to project itself as a security actor. ASEAN needs EU funding and expertise, provided through training and capacity-building programs. These interdependencies explain persistent efforts at institutionalizing their security relations, despite limited outcomes and continuous setbacks. Traditionally, actorness has been at the centre of causal explanations in interregionalism research. This paper revisits this tenet by arguing that, while a certain degree of actorness is necessary for security cooperation, it is their limitations, rather than their strengths, that push the EU and ASEAN to find synergies and cooperate in the security field. This paper bridges interorganizational theory and interregionalism research, two debates that are rarely connected, thus setting the ground for further research questions.
Cristina de Esperanza Picardo, National University of Singapore, Singapore
About the Presenter(s)
Cristina de Esperanza Picardo is a PhD candidate at King’s College London and the National University of Singapore.
Her research interests include EU-ASEAN relations, as well as the evolution of the EU’s foreign policy towards East Asia.
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