Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Blogging -- Back the week of 18 October!

As a blogger, there's definitely one thing you cannot escape -- your
private life. When you're blogging, the assumption is that a lot of
much of your life is put up for public scrutiny.

We all now know that this is rarely the case. The smarter blogger is
the one who is consistent with the themes he writes about. I have
fallen short on consistency at times, but the passion is clearly there
to continue blogging.

Some important and personal issues need to be attended to as I take a
break from full-throttle blogging.

It's only a hiatus...and one that will certainly recharge the batteries!

So here's to when I come back the week of 18 October!

Like British actor Daniel Hoffman-Gill, who I both follow on twitter
and his blog (, I will also be available
on twitter.

I would be happy to receive and follow your tweets as well. I'm on

Rest assured that I shall be doing quite some reading on:

1. the European External Actions Service (EEAS)
2. regional economic integration dynamics in Africa / ASEAN region
4. theories underpinning regional economic integration

Till then!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Can the European Union (&EEAS) Overcome EU27's Nationalism?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do not foresee any understanding of regionalism as we now know it without an understanding of what the Treaty of Lisbon has come to do with the so-called European External Action Service(EEAS). That the EU has already set up a website speaks less about how organised the EU is, and probably more about how much in a hurry the EU is keen to project its power on the global stage.

When the EU became EU27 a few years ago, Fortress Europe seemed to have been entrenched. Outsiders probably began to see an insular Europe ready to protect its own interests by any means necessary. Now that the Treaty of Lisbon is well and truly in operation for almost a year now, one can speculate that there will be a deeper consolidation of Fortress Europe in many more ways than one could imagine.

My deepest fear is that Europe has resources and, if we are not careful, much of the world will be taken off guard about what the EEAS will do. I do not foresee the EEAS ever supplanting the UN, but probably in many ways, its power-parity with respect to the UN secretary-general will be frightfully closer than one might care to imagine.

These trends notwithstanding, it's curious that nationalism is on the rise in the EU--at least this is according to professor of international affairs at Georgetown University Charles Kupchan.

In an article he wrote in August, he posits the idea that "The European Union is dying." He writes:
not a dramatic or sudden death, but one so slow and steady that we may look across the Atlantic one day soon and realize that the project of European integration that we've taken for granted over the past half-century is no more.
 He attributes the decline to an economic issue, saying that because it has affected the economies of many European economies, there have inevitably been cutbacks, forcing some European economies to "claw...back the sovereignty they once willingly sacrificed in pursuit of a collective ideal."

He cites Germany; Britain; Belgium; and France is being the major culprits walking down the path of a renewed nationalism.

On Germany, he writes:

Germany's pursuit of its national interest is crowding out its enthusiasm for the E.U. In one of the few signs of life in the European project, member states last fall embraced the Lisbon Treaty, endowing the union with a presidential post, a foreign policy czar and a diplomatic service. But then Berlin helped select as the E.U.'s president and foreign policy chief Herman van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton, respectively, low-profile individuals who would not threaten the authority of national leaders. Even Germany's courts are putting the brakes on the E.U., last year issuing a ruling that strengthened the national Parliament's sway over European legislation.

On Britain, he continues : "May elections brought to power a coalition dominated by the Conservative Party, which is well known for its Europhobia."

On Belgium: " in July, the E.U.'s rotating presidency fell to Belgium--a country whose Dutch-speaking Flemish citizens and French-speaking Walloons are so divided that, long after elections in June, a workable governing coalition has yet to emerge. It speaks volumes that the country now guiding the European project suffers exactly the kind of nationalist antagonism that the E.U. was created to eliminate"

As for France: " In France, for example, anti-Europe campaigns have focused ire on the E.U.'s "Anglo-Saxon" assault on social welfare and on the "Polish plumber" who takes local jobs because of the open European labor market."

In the final analysis, Kupchan offers a solution: "The E.U.'s rapid enlargement to the east and south has further sapped it of life. Absent the cozy feel the smaller union had before the Berlin Wall came down, its original members have turned inward. The newer members from Central Europe, who have enjoyed full sovereignty only since communism's collapse, are not keen to give it away."

One might get away from this feeling that it has little to do with regional dynamics--far from it!

The impression being given with the growing EEAS is that the EU will come to represent a significant force on the world stage. No-one expects that everything would be easy-sailing, what with 27 members and all, but the jury is clearly out on the implications of the EEAS for regional dynamics and interaction. What will, for example, be the role of the EEAS with regard to the African Union / MERCOSUR / ASEAN / CARICOM/ the ACP?

Most importantly, how does one reconcile the growth of the EEAS with the nationalism Kupchan is talking about? If it is true that Europe needs "new generation of leaders who can breathe life into a project that is perilously close to expiring", then what does that say  about the sustainability of this most ambitious of projects that might well unwittingly alienate European citizens in a way they have not yet been?

And, finally, what will it mean for the UN that has taken the mantle to lead the world away from the scourge of war? Will the EU and its EEAS be as magnanimous on the world stage?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

More Thoughts on Regional Integration...TEAMWORKS UNDP/UNECA!

Many thanks for your patronage thus far. I am profoundly honoured to increasingly be the hub of "African integration" initiatives. Although I owe Google for that, still, for those who have come to this blog, many of you have come again. And again!

I believe life to be a work-in-progress, so it is an ineluctable fact that this blog is, too. This simply means that comments and suggestions would be appreciated on how to make this blog more efficacious. I don't see it to just be about prosaic, academic thought on regional integration.

In my view, it ought to be punchy and hard-hitting. I am confident you will get away from reading most of the entries and realise that the entries are very irreverent. I am continually trying to improve and expand the content, so comments much appreciated!

I am perhaps vindicated by having been invited by no less than an official of the UN Economic Commission on Africa to the the UNDP/UNECA intranet, which link can be found on

Those who made that possible, you know who you are! I will move along with this "e-accolade" by consolidating and improving the qualitative nature of the posts I write.

In the meantime, note to self:

1. what's the difference between regional cooperation and South-South cooperation (the answer might not be as obvious!)

2. Will Fortress Europe collapse due to a growing nationalism within the 27 member countries?

These are some of the issues that have preoccupied me over the past week. They shall be transformed into entries very soon!