Global Policy Forum

Political Integration and National Sovereignty


When nations join with others in a trade or political bloc, they give up some national sovereignty. The European Union started out as a free trade zone and built considerable political integration over a period of several decades. But the EU is far from a unified state and far from a satisfactory Europe-wide democratic order, while substantial sovereignty still remains with the EU's member governments. In a globalizing world, nations feel pressure to join trade and political pacts. Often, these international groupings erode national democracy while offering diminished accountability at the wider policy-making level. How, then, can trade pacts be subject to democratic accountability and how can integration proceed without losing the advantages of smaller-scale political process? The internationalists may be naive enthusiasts, while the nationalists may often be bigoted and reactionary. But somewhere in this debate lie the core issues of governance in a globalizing and integrating planet.



Rating Sovereignty (November 10, 2012)

In this article, Professor of Philosophy Michael Marder argues that the impact of the eurozone crisis on Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain shows the extent to which the classical model of sovereignty has eroded. The nation-state “has lost the last shreds of its supreme authority to make decisions on domestic policy matters” as they are bound by the standards imposed by extra sovereign bodies such as the EU, the Central Bank, and the IMF. This trend is even more worrying when such responsibility is given to private rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's in order to engender a “world where everything is eminently rankable." Marder views this as a direct threat to states sovereignty, which he considers un-rankable, un-ratable, and therefore incomparable. (Al Jazeera)

Every Nation for Itself: Six Questions for Ian Bremmer (May 5, 2012)

The G7 group of industrialized nations can function, but does not reflect the global balance of power, while the G-20 group of “major economies” is representative, but cannot function. Ian Bremmer coined the term “G-Zero” to describe the current situation in which no country or group of countries can take the lead in solving the world’s most pressing problems, like climate change, food and water scarcity, nuclear proliferation, and international security. The US has the world’s largest economy and military, but it is unable to provide effective global leadership to tackle such problems. The result is a situation in which every nation focuses solely on its own interests, rather than global concerns. (Harper's Magazine)

Eastern Europe, a Cold War Relic, Still Alive at UN (April 10, 2012)

Eastern Europe as a regional entity has gradually ceased to exist since the collapse of the Soviet Union, except at the United Nations. The 22 countries of former Eastern Europe have been absorbed into institutions such as the EU or NATO. But the regional group is still claiming the presidency of the General Assembly, and will most likely take the post of Secretary-General after Ban Ki-moon’s term ends in 2016. Eastern Europe’s claims to special status at the UN does not fit well into regional patterns and institution-building in the real world. James Paul of Global Policy Forum states that regional groups at the UN will most likely fade, while well organized regional institutions such as the EU, the AU, UNASUR, and ASEAN will gain influence. (IPS)


Rule by Troika (December)

The European project of strong regional integration was supposed to secure prosperity, strengthen democracy in states formerly ruled by juntas like the ones in Greece, Spain or Portugal, and eliminate nationalism as a source of war. But with the imposition of harsh austerity measures, puppet governments directed by the troika (the EU, the ECB and the IMF) and renewed strife between nations, it seems to be having quite the opposite effect. As democratically elected leaders are being forced to resign and former bankers such as Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti are taking over European governments, the commitment to the post-war European ideal seems mere rhetoric. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

ASEAN: Set Benchmarks for Burma on Rights (November 16, 2011)

Human Rights Watch calls for ASEAN to set clear human rights benchmarks for Burma as a condition for its chairmanship of the regional grouping in 2014. These benchmarks should include release of all political prisoners, repeal of legislation used to suppress nonviolent dissent, halt of abuses in areas of ethnic conflict, and trials for war crimes perpetrators. An estimated 1,669 political prisoners currently remain imprisoned in Burma. (Human Rights Watch)

A German Referendum on Europe? Merkel Eyes Constitution Revamp to Boost EU Powers (November 14, 2011)

Angela Merkel’s vision in the fight to safeguard the Euro seems to be one seeking for more European integration, not less. As she repeatedly maintained throughout the past months, Merkel wants to use the crisis to advance Europe's political unity. However, The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, made it clear that the German constitution does not allow further transfers of power to Brussels. Transferring more sovereign rights to the EU would therefore mean amending Germany's constitution – a constitution perceived by many Germans their most precious good. The struggle to safeguard the Euro discloses itself as a question of fundamentals: How ought the trade off between national sovereignty and regional integration look like? How much Germany, France, Italy and Greece - how much Europe? (Spiegel Online)

Putin’s Grand Vision: A New Eurasian Bloc with Old Soviet Neighbors (October 4, 2011)

After announcing he would return to the presidency next year, Vladmir Putin proposed the formation of a supranational “Eurasian union,” based on shared economic interests. Putin claims he is not attempting to recreate the USSR, but rather to use the legacy of the Soviet Union for regional development. In 2009 Russia formed a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan which is due to become a "unified economic zone" next year, bringing down barriers to the movement of labor and capital. These efforts at regional integration may also demonstrate frustration with Russia's 18-year-long effort to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). (Guardian)

South-South Development Cooperation and Agricultural Investment (August 19, 2011)

In line with the UN’s development agenda, Brazil is engaging in increased South-South development co-operation. These projects focus on a range of areas, but predominantly center around agriculture. They take place in over 80 developing countries throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. Yet Brazil is not alone in its development agenda. Emerging powers India and South Africa, along with Brazil have formed a body, known as IBSA, which funds several projects in developing nations. Whilst regional development cooperation is key to the UN’s development goals, it is vital to ensure that these projects do not endanger host countries’ control over their agricultural resources and food security. (Inter Press Service)

EU Considers Tightening Border Rules (May 4, 2011)

The influx of Tunisian migrants arriving in France and Italy is causing the EU to reconsider European border controls. The Schengen agreement currently allows free travel within the region, however the EU claims it might be necessary to reinstate national border controls in order to limit the number of migrants entering Europe. Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi has already called for a revision of the Schengen agreement in light of the Arab uprisings. (Al Jazeera)

Portugal Seeks EU Bailout Due to Debt Crisis (April 6, 2011)

The Portuguese government has asked for a bailout from its growing debts.  Portugal, the third Eurozone country to face economic crisis, is asking for assistance from the European Commission, IMF and Europe’s bailout fund. This article anticipates the estimated bailout costs and ramifications for the Euro as a result of Portugal’s default. (Guardian)

How the London Political Classes See Scotland (March 30, 2011)

The structure of the British Isles, in both political and social dimensions, is a growing topic of concern amongst the British government. This article argues that British political elites no longer have any understanding of the “multi-national, hybrid, patchwork nature of the UK” and struggle to comprehend the working of Scottish politics. Without having a fundamental understanding of inter-Britain relations on a political level, the writer claims that the British identity is being threatened and encouraging “separatist” sentiments. (Open Democracy)

Europe Needs its Own IMF (March 29, 2011)

Tensions between Northern and Southern Europe as to the cause of the Euro crisis have overshadowed the heart of the matter. German tendencies towards blaming the Mediterranean states for low productivity have resulted in the role of the European Central Bank in the deterioration of the Euro being vastly overlooked. This article argues that the European Central Bank, having maintained low interest rates to a generate property market boom, is primarily to blame for the current state of the Euro. Furthermore, for the Euro to be successful, the European Central Bank has to be concerned with more than just inflation. (Guardian)

The Euro Plus Pact- A Plus but Not a Solution (March 28, 2011)

The new Euro Plus Pact aims to provide timely and effective financial support to European Monetary Union countries in future need. With Portugal, Greece and Ireland all facing default and bailouts, the Euro Plus Pact hopes to avoid future Euro crises. This article, however, highlights how the pact does not charter a definite path out of crisis and has no strategy for achieving faster growth through higher public and private investment. (Social Europe Journal)

Europe: On the Wrong Side of History (March 23, 2011)

Europe is struggling with the issue of immigration. Latest estimates from EU agencies claim that around 900,000 illegal migrants enter the EU every year, many from North Africa, a trend which is set to increase with the current political instability and revolutions occurring throughout the Middle East. This article address how EU concerns over national interests and immigration have severely influenced European involvement in the Arab uprisings. (Prospect)

What is Multiculturalism? (March 18, 2011)

Both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister David Cameron have recently claimed that multiculturalism has failed. In this interview, Jonathan Freedland from The Guardian and Matthias Matussek from Der Spiegel, use the "failure" of multiculturalism as a springboard to discuss the meaning of multiculturalism and reflect on its realities in Europe. Although approaching the issue from different perspectives, this interview highlights the widespread European concern over multiculturalism and the future of national identities.(Guardian)

Italy’s Not-So-Happy Birthday (March 18, 2011)

2010 marked the 150th anniversary of Italian unification. However, despite the celebrations organised by Prime Minister Berlusconi to honour the creation of a single nation, tensions between regional Italian identities are rapidly increasing. From the separatist sentiments of the Northern League to the disaffection of the South Tyrolean Italians, this article highlights that the state of Italy is far from successfully unified. (Foreign Policy Magazine)

Europeans are Liberal, Anxious and Don't Trust Politicians, Poll Reveals (March 13, 2011)

A new poll by the Guardian has unearthed a surprising commitment to European institutions such as the Euro and free movement between EU states. The poll, which was carried out in Britain, France, Germany, Poland and Spain, reveals that hostility is mainly directed towards national politics and domestic economics but doesn't reflect a crisis of EU identity. This article highlights the main conclusions of the poll and what they mean for the future of European politics. (Guardian)

Great Green Wall to Stop Sahel Desertification (February 25, 2011)

Plans to create a Pan-African Great Green Wall have been approved at an international summit in Bonn. The living green wall serves to combat Sahel desertification and will comprise of trees and bushes, stretching from Djibouti in the east to Dakar in the west. Eleven countries located along the southern Saharan border have conceived the joint project, hoping that the green wall will not only have dramatic environmental results but also support political stability in the Sahel region. This article highlights how ecological programs can act as a catalyst for improved political cooperation. (Guardian)

Rising Anti-EU Sentiment (February 23, 2011)

Economic hardship, corruption and political stalemates within the Balkan states are fostering a distinct anti- European Union sentiment. Although nations such as Croatia are close to achieving membership, support for the EU has fallen below 50% in many Balkan states as salaries have decreased and currencies are losing value. This article highlights how citizens are calling for domestic political stability and economic security before further employment and financial compromises are made by governments to attain EU membership. (Terraviva Europe)

The UK is in the midst of the Coalition Government's austerity cuts. The government hopes that scaling back public sector spending will trigger the private sector to fill the void and resume growth. This article however, argues that Britain's economy is unlikely to grow in response to a "revitalized world economy" and will eventually have to join the Eurozone in order to reduce the deficit. (Social Europe Journal)

An Ever Closer Union (February 7, 2011)

Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have proposed greater integration in European economic and social policies. The economic downturn, contrary to the expectations of many euro-sceptics, has strengthened Europe’s desire towards European cohesion in an attempt to save the faltering Euro. This article addresses the mechanisms suggested by the French and German governments in order to encourage European economic integration. (Foreign Policy Magazine)

Stop the Greek Exit (January 26, 2011)

The IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission have demanded significant austerity measures to curb the Greek deficit. Set to fall by a further two to three per cent this year, the decline of the Greek GDP is bringing Greece ever closer to the prospects of either default or leaving the Eurozone. Both options come hand in hand with major economic disruption, loss of investment and further austerity measures. This article investigates the possible repercussions of defaulting in both Greece and across Europe. (Prospect Magazine)

We Have to Move Away from a Europe of Small Minds (January 9, 2011)

What does it mean to be European? With the establishment of the European Union in 1993, the question of European identity was at the center-stage of regional European politics. In the present context of financial and economic crisis, revisiting this debate is of uttermost importance.  In this Spiegel Interview Czech Foreign Minister Karl Fürst zu Schwarzenberg talks about what Europe means for him. Much more than a monetary union, Europe is a political project. Economic solutions such as a two-speed Europe threaten this project. “Anyone who has ever driven on the German autobahn knows that the slow lane leads to the exit,” Schwarzenberg maintains.



The Souring of Turkey's European Dream (December 23, 2010)

Talks over Turkey's prospective membership to the European Union have come to little conclusion. With neither Turkey nor Europe expecting a resolution to occur in the near future, Orhan Parmuk, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, underlines the reasons behind Turkey's increasing disaffection with the European dream. From anger over Europe's involvement in the Iraq war to concerns over Europe's growingly introspective nature, it is clear that Europe is no longer heralded as the model for the new Turkey. (Guardian)

Making the Euro Whole (December 20, 2010)

George Soros of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute, investigates in this article the deficiencies of the Euro which are affecting the European Union. Arguing that the Euro's problems stem from the creation of a monetary union without a political union, Soros addresses possible solutions to the "Euro-crisis". With Ireland and Greece facing the prospect of default, the Eurozone needs to make significant structural changes in order to restore the Euro's stability. (Social Europe Journal)

Anchors Aweigh (October 21, 2010)

Economic forecasts predict that Turkey's economy is likely to grow faster in 2011 than all other European countries. Coupled with increasing political stability, favourable demographic growth and geographical positioning, this economic stability in the face of the Euro's fragility has granted Turkey newfound strategic importance. This article addresses Turkey's growing political power and questions whether, after decades of debate over EU acceptance, Turkey can even profit from EU membership. (The Economist)

The AU Summit and Africa's Trials and Tribulations (August 3, 2010)

At the recent Summit in Kampala, the African Union committed itself to addressing poverty, poor health conditions, and peace and security concerns in the region.  But the UN 2010 Millennium Development Report suggests that poverty is deepening in the continent and donor support for social and economic development is waning. Is it realistic to expect that AU member states will be willing and able to commit the necessary resources-as much as 15% of national budgets-for integrated programs? (Citizen)

Balkan Accession: Slow and Steady Progress (July 29, 2010)

The 27 EU member states recently began the ratification process of Serbia's Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), marking a step in the direction of EU membership for Serbia. As a number of former Yugoslav states push for membership, the organization's members question whether the accession criteria should be reevaluated. Many officials are concerned that the Balkan states are neither willing nor able to meet the EU's requirements. Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether joining the EU is a feasible-or desirable-option for Serbia and other Balkan states. (Foreign Policy is Focus)

South American Summit Tackles Regional Integration (May 11, 2010)

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has taken a further step at an extraordinary summit meeting with representatives of all 12 states members. Set up on the model of the European Union. Unasur was created in 2008 to act as an alternative to the US-dominated Organization of American States. Although UNASUR condemned the military coup that removed Honduran President Zelaya from office, UNASUR members Colombia and Peru have recognized the present Honduran government. Coordinated policy on regional matters remains a distant goal.

European Commissioner Wants Greater Say in National Budgets  (April 14, 2010)

The EU wants to avoid at all costs a repeat of the Greek financial crisis, which has sorely affected the euro. EU finance commissioner Olli Rehn has stated he would like Brussels to have more of a say over budget policies of member states. But EU member states are unlikely to allow the EU to get involved in this politically sensitive area . (Spiegel International)

Opinion: East Africa Integration Deserves Support (March 24, 2010)

The East African Community - Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi - has formed a free trade area and a customs union. It has also scheduled a shared currency, the East African shilling, for 2015. The Rwandan government is even promoting a switch from French to English to gain a common language with its partners. International support for integration in East Africa has so far only been rhetorical, with few Western leaders providing material support to match their lofty words. (Global Post)



Concern Over Iceland EU Bid as Public Support Tanks (November 9, 2009)

At the height of the financial crisis, Iceland petitioned the EU for membership. The EU accepted to put Iceland on a fast track, and this week Iceland appointed their EU negotiations minister. But as the crisis fades, Icelandic public opinion against EU membership hardens. If put to a referendum, it seems  likely that Iceland would vote "no" to EU membership.  Many Icelanders are concerned that - with a population of 320,000 - their voice would be lost on the European stage. Furthermore, perceptions of the British -unpopular for using anti-terror legislation to freeze UK assets in Iceland - are being conflated with attitudes toward the EU as a whole. (EUobserver)

Building Blocs (November 9, 2009)

Post-communist states in Europe have enjoyed different degrees of success in their efforts to democratize. Political scientist Joshua A. Tucker argues that a factor toward explaining this pattern is a country's relative chances of gaining membership in the EU. The prospect of EU membership, with the expected benefits this entails, helps states overcome the first hurdles of democratization.  (The New Republic)

Concern Over Iceland EU Bid as Public Support Tanks (November 9, 2009)

At the height of the financial crisis, Iceland petitioned the EU for membership. The EU accepted to put Iceland on a fast track, and this week Iceland appointed their EU negotiations minister. But as the crisis fades, Icelandic public opinion against EU membership hardens. If put to a referendum, it seems  likely that Iceland would vote "no" to EU membership.  Many Icelanders are concerned that - with a population of 320,000 - their voice would be lost on the European stage. Furthermore, perceptions of the British -unpopular for using anti-terror legislation to freeze UK assets in Iceland - are being conflated with attitudes toward the EU as a whole. (EUobserver)

East Africa Monetary Union to Emulate Euro System (September 14, 2009)

Recent discussions among the East African Community Secretariat, the European Central Bank and Tanzania's strategic collaborators mark a significant step toward the integration of East Africa. These discussions paved the way for the introduction of a single currency zone , the East African Monetary Union, in 2012. The East African Community has already put in place a customs union, and the single market is to take effect in January 2010.  (All Africa)

The Future of European Democracy (July 20, 2009)

According to the European constitution the Union shall be founded on representative democracy. The Lisbon Treaty, a step towards further integration of the EU, raises the question of supra-national decision making and democracy transfer. Today, the information gap between electors and the European Parliament is widening, as governments fail to provide their citizens with information on EU strategies and policies. (Spiegel Online)

US Russian Reset Reviewed (July 17, 2009)

The US and Russia have taken the first steps towards cooperation. Recently, the parties agreed on military-to-military contacts. The Cold War legacy has continued strains between the parties. But now a strategic arms reduction treaty may lead to improved relations.(New York Times)

Who Gets a State, and Why? The Relative Rules of Sovereignty (March 30, 2009)

In international relations, recognition by powerful actors is a condition of state sovereignty and offers protection and aid, argues Stephen Krasner. Sovereignty does not depend on population size or geography but on political interests of key actors that consider a state to belong to their sphere of influence. Besides, there is no conventional pattern to define the concept of sovereignty. Not all states will seek full-fledged independence; some will accept to yield part of their sovereignty to enjoy the benefit of a broader political structure, like the European Union. (Foreign Affairs)


Latin America's New Consensus (October 29, 2008)

Latin America countries have strengthened their relationship trough regional initiatives. "Bancosur," a regional banking system allowing the countries to lend money from each other instead of the International Monetary Fund. Further, the regional cooperation in "Mercosur" increases regional integration and makes countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela less dependent on unfavorable cooperation with the US. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Secret EU Security Draft Risks Uproar with Call to Pool Policing and Give US Personal Data (August 7, 2008)

The Future Group – made up of interior and justice ministers from 6 European Union (EU) member states – issued a report that recommends establishing a "Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation" to enforce counter-terrorism measures. This alliance would require the EU to share information on its own citizens with the US, and calls for the creation of a "European Gendarmerie Force" which would be used for paramilitary interventions overseas. The report argues these integrationist steps between the EU and Washington are necessary to successfully combat terrorism. But, privacy laws in some EU member states stand in the way of this future alliance due to principles of confidentiality. (Guardian)

Mediterranean Union May Be Stillborn (July 11, 2008)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy helped pioneer the creation of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in July 2008. In the UfM, 27 EU Member States and 13 Maghreb and Arab countries will coordinate environmental, trade, and immigration policies. But, the union faces some opposition. Eastern European countries worry the UfM will "divert European financial resources and political attention" away from them, and Spain and Germany feel that France is trying to promote its own interests, not the interests of the EU. Some Arab and African members, such as Libya, argue the union exists so that the Europeans can take their resources. (Inter Press Service)

Europe's Century (June 17, 2008)

The article defines globalization as the "regionalization of international relations" and argues that the EU stands as a model of co-operation for other regional groupings such as the African Union (AU), ASEAN and Unasur. The AU has established a regional peacekeeping force, criminal court and common army to eliminate rivalries among its members. The author argues that such initiatives diminish the role of the US as a global superpower. (Guardian)

The Problem With Europe (June 17, 2008)

According to this Strategic Forecasting article, Ireland's rejection of the EU constitution ends the possibility of a European federation of countries and a collective foreign and defense policy. Sovereignty for smaller countries like Ireland is a cherished possession, and agreeing to a stronger European political union allows bigger players like France and Germany to exercise their power over smaller members. France recognized the impossibility of a politically stronger EU and started looking elsewhere to exercise its power, such as the Mediterranean basin.

S American Nations Create Union to Boost Integration (May 23, 2008)

Twelve South American heads of state have established a Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to boost integration of political, economic, cultural, environmental, energy and infrastructure policies. The Union will strengthen the voice of the region and enhance its political power in global negotiations. "Together we will be much more sovereign," said Brazilian President Lula da Silva. The plan for a regional defense body caused some controversy. Colombia who is fighting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) refused to approve the proposal. (Xinhuanet)

Southern Africa: Whither Regional Integration? (May 21, 2008)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) constitutes one of the six regional organizations in Southern Africa that prioritize development and both economic and political integration. Since 1990, interference of the IMF and the World Bank has shifted SADC's model of integration to a neo-liberal one, putting at risk development, SADC's original purpose. In this interview, Dot Keet, policy expert on trade issues, insists on regional strategies to help each other in times of a financial, food, water and climate crisis. (Transnational Institute)

State Building and the EU's Supra-National Momentum (February 8, 2008)

The author argues that supranationality, "the core project of the EU," is in danger as more and more small ethnic and regional entities seek independence. Several prosperous regions in Europe, such as Catalonia in Spain, are frustrated by poorer countries getting a seat at the EU table. They argue that they have more valid claim to independence due to their relative prosperity. The article suggests that the EU should rethink the distribution of power between regional, national and EU levels. (European Council on Foreign Relations)


Africa: Improved Regional Integration Still Key for Success (September 25, 2007)

The 2007 UNCTAD report argues for more regional cooperation between African countries. Agreeing with this idea, some economists suggest that the African economies "are more competitive than complimentary" and that they would benefit from diversifying production and reduce their dependency on primary product exports. To increase trade between the countries, they argue the countries should engage in greater monetary cooperation and in developing a common African currency. (Inter Press Service)

Sovereignty, NAFTA Loom Large at Summit (August 22, 2007)

At the annual NAFTA summit, the US, Canada, and Mexico discussed how to secure borders while allowing the free flow of goods and services. But critics are concerned that NAFTA constitutes a "super-government" with no accountability to citizens who are directly affected by the agreements. In the US for instance, some fear that the decisions made by the Bush administration "may actually undermine the security and sovereignty of the US." Meanwhile Mexico is concerned that the US is meddling in its internal affairs. (Christian Science Monitor)

Region to Have Single Currency by 2012 (August 20, 2007)

The leaders of six East African countries, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar, met to decide whether by 2012 East Africa will have a single currency and a common market, which will allow the free movement of people. Kenya and Uganda demonstrated great support for fast-tracking the East Africa political federation, whose goal is to have a federal president and parliament by 2013. Tanzania on the other hand is concerned that a federation may threaten its sovereignty and security and lead to corruption. (New Vision)

Mercosur-Venezuela: Integration by Ultimatum (July 5, 2007)

This Inter Press Service article reports on how Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez told Mercosur nations they must approve Venezuela's membership in the trade bloc within three months or he would withdraw the request to join it. Chávez considers Mercosur as a means for South American nations to come together against US economic and political influence in the region. But Mercosur member countries appear reluctant to break with US-style capitalism.

Leaders Split Over African Unity (July 3, 2007)

On the final day of the African Union summit, the 53 African governments continue to struggle in reaching a common position over the extent of African economic and political integration. Some nations like Uganda favor economic integration but argue that African countries should only integrate politically with those "who are either similar or compatible." Others such as Libya and Senegal express their readiness to immediately set up a pan-African government which could benefit Africa's interests. This BBC article foresees that "the majority of African leaders are likely to call for a gradual approach, preferring to strengthen the existing regional blocs rather than signing away some of their own sovereignty."

From Pan-Africanism to the Union of Africa (June 20, 2007)

Pan-Africanism emerged as a regional integration movement in the 1990s, centered on the struggle for social and political equality and the freedom from economic exploitation and racial discrimination. This paper discusses how Pan-Africanism was institutionalized in the form of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and in the present day African Union (AU) and how it still faces the challenges of conflict and underdevelopment. But serious discussions are under way to create a "United States of Africa" which will hopefully lead to greater unity among the African peoples. (Pambazuka)

Contiental Government by 2015? (June 14, 2007)

This Inter Press Service article describes how the African Union (AU) summit will discuss how to move towards full political and economic integration on the continent leading possibly to a "United States of Africa." Supporters of this program argue that such economic and political integration will benefit Africa and help the continent play a bigger role on the international stage. But critics are skeptical saying the program is too ambitious and that it would deprive countries of their sovereignty.

Sarkozy's Proposal for Mediterranean Bloc Makes Waves (May 10, 2007)

This International Herald Tribune article reports on a proposal by newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy to create an economic union among Mediterranean countries – including Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The author argues that the proposal will encounter stiff resistance from Turkey as Ankara's leaders believe that the bloc is being proposed as an alternative to Turkey joining the European Union.

US and China Tug at ASEAN Unity (May 8, 2007)

This Asia Times article highlights one of the problems the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) faces in its attempts to unify. The author argues that ASEAN progress is increasingly hindered by US – China "competition for regional influence," which only encourages bilateralism instead of the multilateralism the organization strives for.

Happy to Be Outside the EU Club (March 20, 2007)

This BBC article discusses the reasons that four Western European countries have for not joining the EU. The author argues that tensions Switzerland and Liechtenstein have had with Brussels over their "lax" tax laws are reasons the two countries continue to opt out of EU membership. Additionally the author cites Norway and Iceland both of which refrain from membership because they do not want to sign on to the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

One Step Forward, Two Back For ASEAN (February 22, 2007)

A number of "bilateral trade and investment spats" among the countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could undermine the organization's attempt to create a regional free-trade area, reports this Asia Times piece. The majority of cross-border investment tensions – which usually involve Singapore – have a "nationalistic" component as politicians are unhappy about foreign investments made by ethnic-Chinese Singaporeans. The author argues that if these anti-Chinese sentiments continue not only will the goal of ASEAN be undermined, but China might stop investing so heavily in the region.

In Lands of the Euro, A Growing Number of Local Currencies (February 7, 2007)

This International Herald Tribune article reports on the proliferation of alternative currencies – at least 21 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – in lieu of the euro. Proponents of these regional currencies – the majority of which depreciate over time – believe that money should be spent quickly to fuel consumption and stimulate the economy. Additionally they are designed to "foster the production and consumption of local products and services" as the currencies are not accepted by non-participating establishments.

Eastern Economic Union Takes Shape (February 6, 2007)

This Inter Press Service article highlights the attempt by the nine island-states of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to further integrate by forming an economic union parallel to that of the larger Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). The author argues that CARICOM – of which the OECS countries are also members – is putting up some resistance to the plan because it fears that it will undermine the larger CARICOM economic union set to go into effect in 2008.

An EU-Like Pact for ASEAN: A Distant Dream? (January 28, 2007)

This International Herald Tribune article argues that attempts by members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to create a free trade zone by 2015 – similar to the EU zone – will prove difficult to achieve. The author claims that integration will remain a challenge until domestic issues such as poverty, corruption and political instability are addressed.

A Small Thorn in the EU's Side (January 23, 2007)

Twenty far-right nationalist politicians from a variety of countries have formed a coalition in the EU parliament in an attempt to halt further European integration. This Der Spiegel article argues that such a coalition – if it continues to grow and adopts a cohesive agenda – could mean trouble for the future of the European Union.


Mid-Life Crisis for ASEAN (December 16, 2006)

This Asia Times article highlights the problems that plague the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the wake of its canceled December 2006 summit. The author argues that ASEAN failures are due to the unwillingness of member states to create a strong central authority – similar to the EU Parliament – and the adoption of bilateral agreements in place of multilateral bargains.

What Future for the African Union? (November 15, 2006)

This article by the European Center for Development Policy Management analyzes the progress of the African Union (AU) in the first four years since its transition from the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The author argues that the AU has succeeded in achieving recognition as a "legitimate" partner in the international arena and in developing an African peace and security architecture – by creating a Peace and Security Council – that will help maintain peace on the continent. However, the article concludes that the AU must work to ensure that member states see its institutions as "allies" and not as "competitors."

No Welcome for Serbia in the EU (October 2006)

The citizenry and politicians within the European Union increasingly "harden their attitudes" toward Eastern European countries, both those that have recently joined as well as those aspiring to enter. Many nationals in France and the United Kingdom, for example, fear that immigrants from Eastern European countries will take jobs away. This apprehension among Europeans results in the widespread perception that gaining membership will become increasingly difficult for countries such as Serbia, as tighter immigration controls and more stringent requirements will be implemented, prolonging the accession process for years. (Le Monde diplomatique)

Adieu, Europe? (June 29, 2006)

The European Union finds itself in a stalemate, despite seeming to have bounced back from the 2005 rejection of the draft European constitution. The process of European integration has arrived at core areas of national sovereignty; the EU has reached the limits of the area traditionally viewed as Europe; and the Union finds itself the scapegoat for rising inequality throughout its member states. This openDemocracy article warns that the EU lacks the means to fulfil its own grand ambitions and must urgently re-prove its relevance.

US Ponders Counteracting the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (June 16, 2006)

The six member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) emphasized their right to self-determination in Central Asia, referring to increasing US geopolitical pressure in the region. Recognizing Central Asia's vast oil resources, the conservative International Relations and Security Network proposes strategies for the US government to keep a strong geopolitical presence in the region and counter the rise of the SCO. (International Relations and Security Network)

Is the EU Destined to Fail? (June 16, 2006)

This Globalist article argues that the European project is in trouble. Seen as irrelevant by many of its citizens, as responsible for economic woes by others, the EU also faces the challenge of resurgent nationalism. The author warns that European leaders, especially in Germany and Italy, must make Europe a top priority once again, otherwise "one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century will be at risk."

A Latin American Pipeline Dream (February 12, 2006)

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, and Venezuela have proposed building the world's largest fuel pipeline across Latin America to promote regional economic development. Marking the "end of the Washington Consensus," the agreement represents a new era of political and economic cooperation intended "to forge a new South American identity." However, the governments involved have not agreed on how to finance the $20 billion project or what to do about the pipeline's environmental impact. According to many experts involved with the project, the negotiations highlight as many divisions within the region as they do agreements. (Washington Post)




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