Regionalism and World OrderBy Mario Telò*
By Mario Telò* – Excerpt from the book Still a Western World? Continuity and change in the global order: Africa, Latin America and the ‘Asian century’ (Europa Regional Perspectives)
Edited by Sergio Fabbrini and Raffaele Marchetti. Routledge, 2016.
Is regionalism relevant for the global order or do only nations states matter? The trend of regionalism is largely linked to that of multilateralism, but they do not exactly overlap. Regional cooperation is a kind of smaller-scale multilateralism: according to Keohane and Ruggie, cooperation among more than two states is multilateral provided that the general principle of conduct and reciprocity works correctly (Ruggie, 1993). However, regionalism could also be a form of protection against multilateral liberalization, according to Gilpin (2011) and others. The question is whether both the cooperative and the competitive scenarios entail the growth of regional entities towards a more explicit political role, at least sufficiently to address issues affecting the global order. Regionalism should not be confused with mere economic regionalization as a component of globalization.
Furthermore, comparative research brings evidence of a gradual botton-up politicization of regional groupings as structural feature of multilateralism global governance:
The European Community became the EU after 1989/91 (Maastricht Treaty), including both the Euro as a political project and several political aspects and new supranational features (Justice and Home Affairs, Common Foreign and Security Policy, European Security and Defence Policy, European Parliament co-decision power, EU citizenship, etc.). The treaties of Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2000), and Lisbon (2007) have gradually strengthened these features, even if not according to an oversimplified model of a federal state in the making. After 30 years of treaty revision, the EU confirms it is a non-state polity; however, it has been politically strong enough to interact with the US and BRICS (strategic partnerships, conflicts, etc.).MERCOSUR not only expanded to Venezuela, but also created the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) by converging with Andean Community (CAN) and Chile (2004) as a security cooperation grouping. Secondly, the need for broader and deeper political legitimacy was addressed by the creation of the ‘Parlasur’, the regional parliament and MERCOSUR citizenship.ASEAN created a kind of ASEAN-driven concentric circles system in East Asia: ASEAN plus 3 with the regional fund called the ‘Chang Mai initiative’ (2000), ASEAN plus 6, the ASEAN regional forum for managing security concerns; and the EAST Asian summits. Furthermore, this was parallel to internal deepening: in 2015 the ‘ASEAN community’, on the basis not only of an FTA, but also of a security community and ‘ASEAN charter’ (2007), will became a ‘constitutionalizing’ entity.The three regional groupings mentioned above seem resilient in the face of economic and political crises (Fioramonti, 2013; Telò, 2014).Similar tendencies towards a political role through peacekeeping and peace-enforcement missions seem to be emerging also in Africa: SADEC, ECOWAS, and the African Union.Institutionalization takes various forms according to intercontinental and intra-continental cleavages. The EU supranational approach is quite isolated contrary to other forms of EU cooperation. According to the literature, new regionalism is, in general, creating a framework for enhanced national policy coordination, including further steps towards common regional polity and politics. The EU’s open method of coordination seems a reference point beyond the EU’s borders.Alternative and competing paths are emerging as far as the link between regionalism and democratic consolidation is concerned: authoritative forms of regionalism (SCO, the Eurasian project, etc.), populist groupings of states (ALBA, etc.) are competing with new democratic regionalism ins Asia, Europe, and Latin America. New regionalism ins in general linked to the third wave of democratization: in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and East Asia. The EU, MERCOSUR, and ASEAN have been capable of framing and proactively supporting democratic leaderships and institutions at the national level over the last 25 years. The cases of Austria (2000), Paraguay (1996), Burma (2010-15), albeit very different, bear witness to the importance of regional pressures for national democratization. The big five authoritarian states or façades democracies (Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, and China) are not initiators of a new regionalist groupings, even if they cooperate or compete with them.
All in all, the emergent global order is not only multipolar but also multiregional, not only, as Katzenstein (2005) writes, ‘a world of regions’, but also a world where various kinds of regional organizations matter. Within a multilayered (state, regional, and global organization), multilateral global governance system, contingent/instrumental and deeper forms of multilateral cooperation coexist, and competing regional paths play an important role locally and externally. Also for this reason, the emergent world order is asymmetric, heterogeneous, and unprecedented and, to some extent, fragmented: is there also a dialectic trend towards a more positive interplay between regionalism and new multilateral/multipolar order?
Mario Telò is member of GG10, Professor of Political Science, International Relations and European Union Studies at the Université Libre of Bruxelles (ULB) and Professor of History of Political Thought at the University of Bari. He lectured and/or has been Visiting professor in many universities including Hamburg Universitaet (1984-1985), Uppsala (1979), Macau, Pisa Sant’Anna (2001), Chuo-Tokyo and Hitotsubashi-Tokyo (2000 and 2002), LSE (2009), Oxford (2010) and Sciences Po-Paris (2010).