Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Could the EU be replicated elsewhere?

Being back at uni there is lots of reading to be done and plenty of issues to get your head around. This week continued to be about Europe (obviously) but it looked at if it could replicated in other parts of the world.
In this week's reading I found Richard Baldwin’s article on the lessons that could be learnt from the EU really interesting. It clearly showed that the European Union is very much a product of its history and the EU model of integration could not really work elsewhere.

In Griffith and O’Callaghan (2008, page 99) entry for the European Union they describe its history, starting with the Treaty of Rome in 1958 to the Maastricht Treaty that formalised it into an institution that it is today with its own currency, court of law and Parliament.

But to get to that point and what makes it unique, is really what makes it interesting and shows that the formal structure of the EU could not be replicated to the EU.

The end of the Second World War saw a changing relationship between the government and the people who it was to represent. With the horrors of WWII still in their memories, Baldwin argues ‘Helpless in the face of Nazi occupation and the fact that liberation came only because it suited foreign powers led most citizens to question their own nation states – at least in the context of the European system of nation states that had existed in the first half of the 20th century’ (2008, page 8). What is really interesting is that a country’s experience during WWII influenced their response to the push for a more integrated Europe.

As Baldwin continues to points out, ‘Like the Germans, many Italians were happy to see their Government’s freedom of action constrained by a super national body like the EU’ (ibid) and this was in opposition to the British who strongly believed that their Westminster system of government (among others) was what cemented their place among the allies and not among the occupied.

Considering that it was in this geographical area that saw the development of the Peace of Westphalia that recognised state sovereignty, it seems strange that the European region should give birth to the international community’s first regional institution.

This shows that the institution of the European Union was a response to a unique set of circumstances and period in history. While there are some elements of the EU that could be transported to other parts of the world (such as its immigration system or common agricultural policy, for example), I doubt that we could see ASEAN develop their own currency, legal system and Parliament.

List of References

Baldwin, R.E. (2008) “Sequencing and Depth of Regional Economic Integration: Lessons for the Americas from Europe,” The World Economy. 31(1), 5-29

Griffith, M and O’Callaghan, T. (2008) International Relations: Key Concepts (Routledge: New York)

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