Thursday, August 23, 2007

Here be Some Revelations: The European Union's View on Regional Integration (in ASEAN)

All's well that ends well--even in ASEAN, which has a very different kind of regional cooperation to that of the EU. You know you're doing something right, I suppose, when the EU tells you that your regional cooperation is the best and most successful in the world. Check these soundbites out by EU Parliamentarian, Hartmut Nassauer, invited to the 28th session of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly:

1. "We have good relations and strong economic links. The EU is a large investor and we create a lot of trade in Asean and vice-versa."

2. "Apart from having a common economic interest, our regional cooperation is the most advanced and successful in the world,"

3. "Until last year AIPA was still called the Parliamentary Organisation. It stresses parliamentary influence in Asean just like the European parliament"

A very superficial analysis would reveal, from these quotes at least, that the EU is no less than pleased with how ASEAN does business. It is evidently looking forward to ASEAN becoming a bigger bloc--as evidenced by this statement here:

Nassauer said the EU would support Asean the best it could in its efforts to speed up integration of the Asean community particularly on the single common market

I guess there can be nothing wrong with parties seeking to maximise cooperation, while contemporraneously lending credence to the maxim that there are "no permanent friends, only permanent allies", as so wittily enunciated by Palmerston with regard to British foreign policy in the nineteenth century.

So, you've got no bother, really, wondering why the EU would be making such proclamations at this time.

Either way, I'm bored. Bored because these pronouncements are nothing mere than reflections of a less-than-altruistic motive by the EU to woo the ASEAN region like never before. And here's the bombshell: the EU betrays itself by giving us mere mortals a sneak preview into how it conceives of regional integration. Read carefully:

the basic element for the EU approach of regional cooperation was

how to strike a balance between the super powers like China, India and the United States


"The only chance for the weaker and smaller states is for them to act together. For a balanced development, South-east Asian states had decided to act as a regional cooperation,"

he added.

If that be the case, why the hell will the European Union not leave Africa alone to manage its own regional integration? Why does it seek to force one for us--as evidenced by the aggressive pursuit of the Economic Partnership Agreement, slated for December this year?

Does it mean, therefore, that it's one rule for ASEAN, and another altogether for African Union's regional organisations?

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