Home Eurasia Eurasian Economic Union and Post-Soviet Eurasia Holding Together Regionalism and the Interaction of Functional Bureaucracies

Holding Together Regionalism and the Interaction of Functional Bureaucracies

Libman A., Vinokurov E.

MPRA Working Paper.

Final version: Libman A., Vinokurov E. (2012) Holding Together Regionalism and Interaction of Functional Bureaucracies. Review of International Political Economy, 19(5): 867-894.

The debate on regional economic and political integration, as it is presented in the study of international relations (Hurrell 1995) and economics (Baldwin and Venables 1995) usually assumes that the starting point of regional interaction is, somewhat simplified, the absence of interaction: a world of independent countries with more or less autonomous economies. Certainly, the existence of old cultural, economic and political ties is recognised as a factor influencing the development of regionalism, yet the assumption underlying the debate is still that regional integration emerges as a process of the “coming together” of more or less separate political and economic entities. While this approach does accurately describe a multitude of the regionalism projects (including the most pronounced case of the EU), in the developing world it seems to be somewhat limited. Consider, for example, the post-colonial regional projects (like the West African Monetary Union or the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa) or initiatives without a clear regional focus (the British Commonwealth of Nations and similar associations based on French, Portuguese and Spanish origin): in these case regionalism emerges in an environment of already existing economic and political ties, and in fact aims to mitigate the consequences of dissolution of these connections.

The situation has a number of parallels in the debate on federalism. Stepan (1999, 2001) distinguishes between the “coming together” and “holding together” federations: while the former are an outcome of bargaining among independent states interested in creating a more stable and efficient union, the latter results from the attempts to keep together an already existing state through the bargaining of the central government with individual regions for the degree of their autonomy. Buchanan (1995) describes two possible opposing directions of emergence of federalism: from a collection of sovereign states and from a centralised unitary state. In a similar way, regionalism can emerge from the “coming together” of individual countries or as an attempt at “holding together” the disintegrating community. However, to our knowledge, there has been little effort in studying this particular variety of regionalism in the literature; therefore, this is the focus of this paper.

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