Monday, November 22, 2010

Comparative Regional Integration Network: The EU in Comparative Context


Network Coordinators:

Prof. Alex Warleigh-Lack, Brunel University,
Dr. Jens-Uwe Wunderlich, Aston University,

Network Rationale

The revival of regional integration across the globe since the late 1980s has been remarkable, but it is rare to find sustained comparative work which puts the EU in a context with other global regions, rather than federal states. Partly, this is because scholars of non-European regions have often self-defined as IR/IPE experts at a moment when EU studies has gone through a comparative politics turn, considering the EU and EU studies as something  ‘other’ than their dependent variable. However, it is also because many EU scholars have interpreted the field’s comparative politics turn as a move away from IR. Thus, scholars interested in comparative regionalism including the EU often find themselves on the margins of both communities, lacking iterated access to funding and networking opportunities.

This network aims to help fill this gap by bringing together an interdisciplinary, international group of scholars to debate three core themes, building on the small if growing body of work which has begun this process. We maintain that scholarship on other global regions help us understand what is unique to the EU, and what is a general attribute of contemporary global regions. We also maintain that EU studies and the EU itself can be seen as a laboratory whose experiments with a highly institutionalised form of regional integration generates useful evidence and concepts for scholars of regions like ASEAN or MERCOSUR. The network will expand by gradually involving other researchers, in order to foster collaborative research endeavours.


The themes to be debated over the lifetime of the network have been selected because they speak to core issues in regional organizations and their role in the global political economy, but are also all under-explored in a comparative context:
  • ‘Awkward’ States in Regional Integration: What drives some states to join regional organizations while frequently appearing ill at ease with their choice? How are these states managed by their partners?
  • Balancing Economic and Political Integration: Beyond the EU, it is common for political integration (of various kinds) to precede economic integration; why and how do different regions strike different balances between the economic and the political? And how sustainable are these different balances in the age of global capital?
  • Interregionalism: How does the EU manage its relations with other regions? And do other regions, such as ASEAN or Mercosur, develop more fruitful interregional relations than the EU?
  • Opposition to Regional Integration: What are the motives behind resistance? How do these differ between different types of actors, between different national context and between different regional contexts? Do particular forms of regional integration generate more resistance?


Section on Comparative Regionalism – Europe and its External Others at 6th ECPR General Conference (25th - 27th Aug. 2011)

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