European Union and Regionalisation

Key Concepts
  • Euro-federalism
  • national sovereignty
  • subsidiarity
  • regionalisation
Syllabus Outline

Knowledge of the origins and development of the EEC/EC/EU, of the general factors that have fostered European integration, of the major developments through which this has occurred, particularly economic and monetary union, of the process of enlargement, and significance of the EU as an international body.

A knowledge of the growth of regional integration globally, of regionalisation organisations outside of Europe, and of debates about the reasons for, and significance of, regionalisation. (Essay questions will not be set on non-European regional organisations.)

Scheme of Work

European Union — knowledge of the origins and development of the European Economic Community (EEC)/European Community (EC)/European Union (EU) and specifically of economic, monetary and political union. EU enlargement and the ‘widening versus deepening’ debate, together with the significance of the EU as an international body, are important topics.

Regionalisation — knowledge of other regional bodies and the relevance of regionalism in global politics, e.g. the EU, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), the Australia–New Zealand Closer Economic Trade Relations Agreement, and so on. Currently only one WTO member, Mongolia, is not party to a regional trade agreement. The surge in these regional agreements has continued unabated since the early 1990s. Of specific importance is whether regional organisations are a necessary response to globalisation and the subsequent threat to state sovereignty, and whether regionalisation helps or hinders the global trade system.

Content Explanation and Advice


(Note: questions will not be set on economic blocs other that the EU)

Growth of regionalism (since 1945, but especially since 1990); security regionalization; economic regionalization; relationship between regionalism and globalization (‘new’ regionalism; response to economic globalization; constraint on globalization?); prospects for regional governance (debating regional governance; realism vs liberalism), etc.

Key regional economic blocs - North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Association of South-East Asian States (ASEAN), Mercusor, Free Trade Area of America, etc. Regional political bodies – African Union, Organization of American States, etc.

European Union

(Note: questions will not be set on the roles of EU bodies)

Nature of EU as a political entity - origins and development of the EU (from EEC to EC to EU); key institutions of EU (European Commission, Council of Ministers;, European Council, European Parliament, European Court of Justice); intergovernmental and supranational features, etc.

European integration – rival views about the 'European project (federalism vs functionalism vs neofunctionalism); process of integration (SEA, TEU and other key EU treaties; economic union; monetary union; political union; Common Security and Defence Policy, etc); role of subsidiarity; EU integration: for and against ('pooled' sovereignty vs national sovereignty, etc; EU constitution?; the EU as a super-state?; a ‘federal Europe’?; EU exceptionalism (can the EU model be exported to other parts of the world?), etc.

Expansion of EU - phases of expansion; implications and significance of expansion, especially since 2004; prospects for further expansion; tension between 'widening' and 'deepening' of EU, etc.

EU as a international/global actor - trading bloc; economic influence; structural power (membership of international bodies, etc), diplomatic influence; progress in developing a common security and defence policy and capacity (constraints and obstacles on such progress), etc.

Factors behind Regionalisation

A global tendency towards regional integration and co-operation has been increasingly evident since the 1990s.

The European Union has served as the most advanced example worldwide, alongside other (secondary) examples. The latter include regional economic blocs (such as NAFTA and ASEAN) and regional political blocs (such as the African Union).

The types of regional organisation range from loose and non-binding agreements amongst states to complex institutional arrangements, as found in the EU.

Although the motivations for greater regional integration and co-operation vary across different continents, regionalism as a global phenomenon has been a response to a number of wider developments.

Most profound among these developments is a recognition of growing interdependence and the rise of globalisation.

The most significant impetus towards international regionalism has undoubtedly been economic, reflecting the declining effectiveness of the nation-state as an independent economic entity. Regional economic blocs facilitate trade and economic specialisation amongst states, also giving them access to larger markets. Most such blocs have come into existence since 1990 and have been a response to economic globalisation. Usually, regional blocs help to manage the integration of their regions into the global economy, while also fostering internal cooperation.

In cases such as the Council of Europe, the African Union and the Organisation of American States, regional bodies provide a looser foundation for political co-operation, having little or no economic role.