By Dayanna Priscilla Salazar Duarte - International Relations Student
What is regional integration? “Regional integration is an attempt to realize mutual gains from cooperation within a group of self-motivated states in an anarchical international system (Akokpari, J. 2008). Also, Farida (2005) defines regional integration as a process in which neighboring states agree to upgrade cooperation through common institutions and rules. Besides, “regional integration appears today as an alternative that will enable countries in the region to overcome the global economic crisis by creating dynamic economic relations and ties of solidarity among themselves.” (Hemispheric Social Alliance, 2009). “To attain successful regional cohesion, the states have to overcome collective action problems that are endemic to international cooperation” (Abegunde, 2021).
In recent times, various Latin American countries “starting with Brazil and Venezuela took some initiatives in establishing, albeit in more of a political than economic manner, new institutions, purposefully for the integration of a variety of members in the region.” (De Almeida, 2003). On another hand, “many analysts of the regional integration processes think that in Europe and Latin America are profoundly influenced by the institutional architecture of European schemes and tend to consider Latin American experiences against the same framework.” (De Almeida, 2003). In other matters regional integration is being endangered, “not only by those old fears of losing the capacity of devising autonomous choices regarding their public policies but mostly by the inability of Latin American countries to respect their commitments in the signed agreements promising a bright common future under ambitious regional integration schemes.” (De Almeida, P. 2003). Therefore, Hemispheric Social Alliance (2009) affirms that:
National governments faced with the dilemma posed by the current crisis, then, regional integration appears as a viable and important alternative, as a possibility of moving towards a new development model that is more sustainable and just than the one that has been implanted in our countries until now. Regional integration offers greater opportunities for our countries. It proposes that the principle of solidarity replace savage competition and the free market.
Abegunde, (2021), shared some aspects to take into account:
Joining a regional integration agreement necessarily requires surrendering some immediate control over policymaking and losing some political autonomy. On the contrary, cooperation among countries can lead to competition for power. This can impact negatively on the poor country as a member. Even though they have natural resources insufficiency, yet they cannot compete favorably with richer countries. It tends to increase inequality within countries. The crisis and the limits it imposes on the possibility of maintaining the status quo should compel us to overcome existing weaknesses and to develop the new dynamism that institutional developments must promote.
On the whole, (Hemispheric Social Alliance, 2009) affirms that:
Before states negotiate or enter into regional cooperation, they need to take a balanced look at various facets of regional integration and do a comparative analysis of regionalism (comparative regionalism), by gauging both benefits and costs carefully in evaluating suitable proposals for regional cooperation and integration to be adopted. The regional cooperation varies from region to region depending on the drivers or theories guiding each cooperation. Regardless of the type of regionalism adopted the overall aim of regional integration/cooperation initiative, like any developmental agenda, is to boost prosperity, welfare, reduce poverty and inequality, boost democratic governance, security, and infrastructural development. Welfare is the ultimate goal like any policy or strategy, the goal of integration must be an improvement of welfare and quality of life- especially the largest segment of the society.
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• Abegunde, A. (2021). Regional Cooperation and State Sovereignty. https://www.athensjournals.gr/law/2021-1-X-Y-Abegunde.pdf
• Akokpari, J. (2008). Dilemmas of Regional Integration and Development in Africa. In J. Akokpari, A. Ndinga-Muvumba & T. Murithi (eds). The African Union and its Institutions. Auckland Park: Fanele.
• De Almeida, P. (2003). Sovereignty and regional integration in Latin America: a political conundrum? http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-5292013000200006
• Farida, M.A. (2015). The Regional Integration: The Impact and Implications in Member States Sovereignty. https://medium.com/pangripta-loka/the-regional-integration-the-impact-and-implications-in-member-states-sovereignty-5679ebe0990
• Hemispheric Social Alliance. (2009). Regional Integration: An Opportunity to Overcome the crisis. https://www.tni.org/es/node/10624