THE EU-JAPAN STRATEGIC STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (SPA) – REALLY MORE POLITICAL AND SECURITY COOPERATION ON THE GROUND?

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Axel Berkofsky *
(*) Autore principale:
Axel Berkofsky | Axel.Berkofsky@unipv.it

Abstract

In July 2018, Japan and the European Union adopted the bilateral Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). The SPA is aimed at further institutionalizing EU-Japan cooperation in regional and international politics and security. Based on the political rhetoric accompanying the agreement’s adoption, one could be tempted to conclude that the SPA will be the long-awaited breakthrough of EU-Japan political and security cooperation in the years ahead. But it is not, at least not yet. In the agreement, the EU and Japan envision cooperation in more than 40 areas. You name it, it is all in the agreement: cooperation countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, crisis management, post-conflict reconstruction, collaboration to prevent the proliferation of conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons, joint counter-terrorism policies, joint efforts to reform the UN, development policies, disaster management, climate change and many, many other areas and issues made it onto that very long list of unresolved issues of international politics and security. The good news is that the SPA covers fewer issues and areas than the previous EU-Japan Action (2001-2011), which covered more than 100 areas the EU and Japan were at the time planning to cooperate on, and – with a few notable exceptions – did not. The not so good news is that the new SPA still covers more than 40 areas and there is unfortunately no information publicly available outlining which areas and/or issues have priority over others. Reality (most probably) is that when one does not prioritize anything, then not much will get done unless and until there is agreement between the EU and Japan on what needs to be done first, second and third.


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