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Jan Wouters and Alex Andrione-Moylan

The aim of this contribution is to unravel the European Union’s position and role within a deepening and broadening global normative web. After briefly reexamining the debate over the general shift in global governance and its impact on international law, this chapter delves into assessing the impact of informal global fora and their relationship with the EU, particularly with regard to the processes of ‘informal international lawmaking’ which these bodies promote. In order to gain a deeper understanding of this kind of informal global governance, the focus is on economic and financial governance - particularly significant in the context of recent crises. The chapter addresses in particular: (i) the nature and constrains of the legal framework governing the EU’s participation in global fora; (ii) the significance of and challenges to achieving centralized action among EU Member States; (iii) the EU’s ability to influence transnational regulatory frameworks, also vis-à-vis other global players, such as the United States.

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Kolja Raube, Alex Andrione-Moylan and Jan Wouters

This working paper revisits the Union’s relationship with multilateralism as a key organizing principle of EU external relations, by placing it within the broader current crisis and contestation of multilateralism. In doing so, it presents EU-Japan relations as a particularly noteworthy case to understand how the Union is beginning to respond and position itself in a changing global arena, especially by investing in existing bilateral strategic partnerships. This shift from multilateralism to an increased focus on bilateralism is far from foreign to the Union’s approach to external action over the past decades. In fact, it may hold the potential of strengthening the effectiveness and coherence of the EU as a global actor, within a newly emerging international strategy. The EU-Japan partnership can be seen as an example of the EU’s recent efforts to foster bilateral relations and, within these, to revitalize the commitment and mutual support for multilateralism, not least in the context of bourgeoning geopolitical competition with China and a waning partnership with the United States. Evidence of this is notably found in the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement and the 2019 Joint Communication - “Connecting Europe and Asia: Building blocks for an EU Strategy”, where the EU shows signs of a re-orientation towards an “interest-focused” geopolitical outlook, in which Japan could be seen as an anchoring Asian partner.