A Solution for Africa: The Coexistence of Regionalism

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Regionalism—the efforts of a group of nations to enhance their economic, political, social, and cultural interaction—can assume various forms, including regional integration/cooperation, market integration, development integration, with the intent of accommodating the changing national, international, and regional environment. Despite the fact that to this day, attempts at integration (in particular, market integration based on the EU model) and regionalist impulses as they currently occur have been entirely unproductive throughout the African continent, regionalism continues to be regarded by African leaders as a reasonable strategy for increasing intra-regional trade and for reversing Africa’s rising marginalization in the world economy. They continue to be assured by the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the viability of the European Union’s (EU) model for integration, which begins with a free trade area or preferential trade area and ends with complete economic integration. The EU model features a specific mode of decision making (qualified majority voting), conflict resolution mechanism (role of the European Court of Justice), budgetary arrangements (revenue collection and distribution), and citizen involvement (direct elections to the European Parliament) and takes on increasingly state-like functions. While extremely successful in integrating its constituent member state in Europe, as a model it is limited, given the unique circumstances under which it was established and promoted. As noted by Emil Kirchner:

Consideration of the EU as a model for other regional integration settings might be limited, given the unique circumstances in which it was established and promoted. Born out of conflict, the EU benefited from special circumstances in its development, e.g. the Cold War, the United States guarantee and nurturing role, and the industrialised nature of the European economies, which are not found elsewhere.

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Vol. 2, Iss. 2 (Spring 2009)



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Cornell University Library



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Collins, Anna. "A Solution for Africa The Coexistence of Regionalism." Cornell International Affairs Review Vol. 2, Iss. 2 (Spring 2009).

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