Development of regional organisations, excluding the EU
There are many examples of regional organisations representing different types of regionalism. Regional blocs are the most significant, and they vary in terms of character and type of regionalism (either economic, political or security).
They do not have the scope or level of European integration that makes the EU such a unique example of regionalism. While these regional blocs are still developing and their integration is in some instances deepening and widening, it does seem unlikely that they will ever come to rival the EU model. However, there are arguments on both sides of this debate.
Will regional blocs ever rival the EU?
■ The EU has gradually expanded and developed its role since its origins as the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951. Given that the rise of ‘new regionalism’ did not emerge until the 1990s, perhaps it is still early days for other regions that may decide to go down a similar path.
■ Other regional blocs have moved to expand their remit. Many regional blocs have evolved from being purely economic in nature to now sharing political and security aims (e.g. ASEAN, AU).
■ It is hard to predict whether other regional blocs will emerge on the global stage, as they may react in response to power plays in the broader international system. For example, the rise of the AU could be seen as a feature of multipolarity or as a rise in the power of the Global South. On the other hand, were there to be a revival of a dominant hegemony, we may see different forms of ‘bandwagoning’.
■ The EU has had a unique role in promoting cultural values and ideals. It has a clear identity in promoting democracy, peace and security. Arguably this is unique to the EU, given its foundation in the wake of the Second World War, its role in addressing the long-standing rivalry between France and Germany and the all-pervasive feeling of ‘never again’ in regards to the conﬂict.
■ The EU has played a unique role in promoting certain policies on a global scale. It has pioneered human rights, adopting the ECHR and establishing its own judicial system for its administration (the European Court of Human Rights). The EU has also been instrumental in environmental agreements — for example, it played a key role in the 2009 Copenhagen Agreement .
■ The EU has a balance of strong powers, but not superpowers, which enables it to ‘pool sovereignty’ in the absence of a dominant superpower.