Canada upgraded its representation in Brussels in 1973 when it appointed an ambassador to the European Communities, rather than having this responsibility assumed by its ambassador to Belgium. The EC reciprocated three years later, when the document that continues to provide the structure for Canada-EU relations today, the Framework Agreement for Commercial and Economic Cooperation between Canada and the European Communities, was adopted and an office of the Commission of the EC was established in Ottawa. Canada was not a signatory to the two agreements between the United States and the EC/EU, the Transatlantic Partnership or the Transatlantic Agenda, but in both instances Canada signed a parallel agreements - the Canada-EU Declaration on European Community-Canada Relations (1990), and the Joint Political Declaration on EU-Canada Relations and the Joint EU-Canada Action Plan (1996). While neither document is a verbatim reproduction of the US-EC/EU agreements, they differ little in substance from them.
Canada has strong bilateral ties with the former colonial powers, the UK and France, and is an active member in both the Commonwealth and the Francophonie. In addition, the Atlantik-Brucke Conferences have established a high level on-going relationship with Germany. Nonetheless Canada will always have to recognize that it is a very minor play in the NAFTA-EU relationship. While the EU is Canada’s second largest trading partner, this amounts to only 5.8 per cent of exports and 9.7 per cent of imports, and only 1.7 per cent of EU (out of region) exports and 2 per cent of (out of region) imports. The steady reduction in Canada’s defense expenditures and forces committed to the European theater only contribute to its marginality. In the words of Beatrice Heuser: “When Europeans look across the Atlantic, the giant Untied States tends to fill the picture, squeezing its neighbors out. From the perspective of Spain and Portugal, Central and South America form part of the picture, making Canada almost disappear.”xxxiv
Canada has enjoyed a rather privileged place in the North America-Europe relationship due to its extraordinary participation in the defense of the Western Alliance in the two world wars of this century, as well as other peace-keeping initiatives in Europe and elsewhere. The memories and relevance of these contributions are loosing their power as we move into the next century. The challenge for Canada is that of either finding a new role for itself in the Atlantic Rim area or accepting marginalization.
5a3. . The two most recent governments in Mexico City, those of Salinas and Zadillo, have put Mexico firmly on the path of market liberalization and an opening to the global economy. In addition to being included in the North American Free Trade Agreement, these steps have made Mexico considerably more interesting to the EU as a trading partner and a place for direct investment. While several studies have been conducted examining the impacts of a free trade agreement between Mexico and the EU, nothing specific has been proposed nor is it likely to be, given Mexico’s participation in NAFTA. Nor have agreements parallel to those adopted between the EU and both the US and Canada, in 1990 and 1995/96, been negotiated between the EU and Mexico. It is likely that Mexico’s relations with the EU will continue to be of the nature of cultural and educational programs and cooperation on terrorism and international crime, and that anything more dramatic in the area of economics and security relations will have to be done in conjunction