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Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Logo)Event Reports

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Although the security threats the Union of South American Nations and the European Union face differ, they coincide in that they call for a response beyond the nation state. Policymakers, diplomats, academics and members of the armed forces discussed to which extent regional security coordination can address these challenges, addressing also maritime security and intelligence sharing.

At first sight the security complexes in South America and Europe face very different security threats: South American security concerns mainly revolve around an ongoing process of redistribution of power within and among the nations of the region, as well as endemic corruption and violence stemming from trans-regional crime and drug trafficking networks. Europe, on the other hand, is facing a return of geopolitics and realism to the political agenda, as well as a series of armed conflicts in its immediate eastern and southern neighborhood. However, both regions look towards similar means in addressing their particular security problems. With the objective of promoting the dialogue between the Defense Council of the Union of South American Nations (USAN) and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) of the European Union, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation organized in cooperation with the delegation of the European Union to Brazil, the Belgian Embassy of Brasília, the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations, the think tank of the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, Instituto Pandiá Calógeras, and the foundation of the Brazilian foreign ministry, Fundação Alexandre de Gusmão, the II. European-South American Regional Security Symposium. Policymakers, diplomats, academics and members of the armed forces attended the presentations and participated in the ensuing discussions.

Speakers from both regions agreed that both regions are suffering from a particular climate of insecurity resulting from complex social and global challenges which cannot be addressed adequately by one nation state alone. Instead, cooperation, information exchange and concerted action through regional security architectures are indispensable in the quest of stabilizing peace and tranquility to the regions of Europe and South America. However, South Americans struggle with the limited possibilities for cooperation between security apparatuses in the lack of profound regional integration, especially in the area of intelligence sharing – a key challenge for both regions, due to increased terrorism and international organized crime activities. The case of Belgium was discussed, where in the aftermath of the Paris attacks increased cooperation between Belgium and France allowed security forces to identify remaining elements of the terror cell that had planned and executed the attacks against the French capital. As a response to the return of realism and geopolitics to European politics, the region’s new strategic approach “pragmatic idealism” was discussed. Furthermore, representatives from both regions agreed on the importance of the South Atlantic for the security and wellbeing of both regions, stressing the need for increased South American naval capabilities to impede illicit trade and piracy and to prevent any extra-regional intervention.

The event was highly successful, and brought together a large number of defense and security specialists from South America, Europe and many other nations around the world. Speakers and participants agreed that many questions remain open, especially in regards to the delicate relations of sovereignty to regional security architectures, as well as the imperative relation of liberty to security. However, the importance of sharing concerns and best practices on the level of the two regional security architectures was highlighted and praised by all present participants, who called for a continuation of the format and for further discussions in the future.


Gregory Ryan

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