Regionalism in The Post-Cold War Era: Is the European Neighbourhood Policy Regionalistic in Nature?

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Wesleyan University
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Regionalism is a sociological theory concerned with the practice of a system that tends towards regional practices as opposed to the central systems engaged in the administration of affiliation in the economic, cultural, and political contexts. The post-cold war period was set off by the disintegration of the old Russia (Soviet Union) on December 26, 1991. The period during the cold war was defined squarely by the confrontation that took place between the US and old Russia which had emerged as the strongest side after World War 2. After the cold war, a new regionalism movement has developed with increased diversity and multi-dimensional with emphasis on aspects such as the social, political and culture which involve a host of actors and levels where cooperation takes place diverse groups have been accommodated having different sizes of states, systems of governance and economic systems which bridge the divide between the south and the north. The question that can be asked and answered is whether the policies adopted by the European Neighboring Policy are regionalistic. From this question, it can be concluded that the European Neighbourhood Policy is regionalism based on various reasons.

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The Cold War Era

The era of the Cold War was characterized by the identification of regions through cartography. However, the European Community had developed a region that went beyond what traditionally determined the geographical proximity of that time and developed its own elements of regions. These regions stood out as what shaped the regional identity of Europe by giving it a wider range of factors beyond geography. These determinants that have come up are regional economic integration, the regional political integration determinant, the legislative normative convergence, and normative socialization. The result was a poor theorization of regions that had come up during the Old Regionalism campaign. Despite this, there were regions that had proper distinctions that placed them beyond others. Hass developed a neo-functionalism theory that was a counter-example to the systematic theory. Hass claimed that the theory was in search of spillovers and integration but came into contact with dictators and decay. Disagreements existed as to which method best works in identifying viable instruments that define regions and admit fresh members to regions that are already in existence. The use of geographic density in defining an established region was essential to the process. Additional variables were admitted also in the definition process to add some aspects to the process.

Independence Policies by Europe

The answer to the question of whether trends existed in the era of the Cold War which led to the disconnection from the pleasures of the globe is affirmative. Europe attained the first rank in the transitional phase towards liberty that took place after the Cold War. The move towards the favorable policies of independence was a creation of the European continent. Other regions formed across the planet such as the African region and the Asian continent had set their own security objectives. The objectives and policies were a concession to the negative oppressive meddling that took place because of phenomena such as neo-imperialism and neo-colonialism.

The primary system overlay the regional system using a single-dimensioned process that had an effect on the evolution of the future power establishments of regional integration. The settings that regional security frameworks established after the advent of the Cold War were the African, the Middle East, East Asia, and the Southern Part of Asia. The regions began to possess a relative form of autonomy that generated the dynamics of each region and the process of integration was an attempt to bring stability to the turbulent domestic arena when decolonization had just begun.

The Patterns that Featured in Regionalism during the Post Cold War Time

The era after the Cold War does not recognize the input of the system level as a chief catalyst of regional systems that existed and the regional order. The old regionalism that took place when the Cold War was on simply reproduced the hegemonic patterns of Cold War in the areas. At the point of inter-regional relations, a region’s behavior has an impact on what happens in other regions. The regionalization process that took place in the Asian region specifically in the Northeast and southeast is more of a response to the bloc building that occurs in other regions. The regions here are the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The unilateral pressures coming from the primary system cannot be resisted because of the strategic capabilities that have been developed by the regional order, regional systems, and subsystems.

The concept of regional order can be viewed as compartmentalization of particular engagements with orientation and instrumentation that has been directed towards an accommodative strategy. The strategy in question aims at accommodating interests and selecting objectives.

On the other hand, the world order has a different disposition from the placement of the regional order. In the world order, the accommodation process is different. The reason is that the accommodation process does not involve covenants to loop the actors and facilitate their dealings and participation in the arena created. The actors involved in putting up the security for the region had the same kind of influence. In more often situations, the foundation system does not have the keenness required to intervene and influence the settlements provided by the regional institutions as was the case in the period of the Cold War. This systematic behavior is what is known as unipolar passivism. Unipolar passivism is a short period that occurs immediately after the period of the Cold War. This period is characterized by the hegemonic system’s unwillingness to take control of the remotest areas of the system and engage in an activity that ensures full dominance takes place. Regionalism has tried to deviate from the trend set by this turning point in the study of international relations. The remaining powerhouse that the world knew after the Cold War was the United States. In all likelihood, the great powers that have emerged after the Cold War are likely to concentrate the resources in their chest on intervention. The concentration of this measure is likely to fall into regions that are recognized as focal spheres of interest. In some situations, this is done at the expense of regions that have lesser strategic importance compared to the spheres of influence.

The Dynamics of Regionalism

Regionalism needs to be understood in light of the globalization context. Analysis can be done based on two processes the first is between dimensions which can be seen in the process and the second is between world system levels.


Regionalization is concerned with a change from heterogeneity to a point where there is increased homogeneity in light of the different dimensions. The most important dimensions are cultural identification, security (social, psychological, physical), economic policies, and the political regime. Cultures with elements of homogeneity are formed through a slowed process. The question that comes up is about the extent to which original movement towards culture takes place among the cooperating states. The original format that the integration theory took has an economistic bias with a factor that is under neglect. Thinking about regionalization as a political project becomes a crucial process. Under normal circumstances, regionalization makes it necessary to adopt a certain degree of cultural homogeneity this is known as a regional civil society that is set to inhere. This condition is necessary but at the same time insufficient because cultural similarity does nothing to prevent a fight between states and social groups.

Nordic countries are culturally similar but this did not prevent war among them during the Westphalian phase. With their similarity in culture, they have been able to adopt different solutions to the security problems even though they are a security community. Inter-state hostilities among the states in South Asia have not been prevented by the cultural similarity among the people.

Security is a dimension that has been used to define regional systems in the current context of regionalism. Security divisions are used to identify the divisions existing as a result of economic activities. A good example has been shown through paradigms witnessed through cooperating regional entities in Europe when the Cold War was taking place. A significant shift in the security order establishes new patterns of cooperation similar to the case of Europe. The expectation is that doing away with the Cold War system brought changes to the prima facie conditions for global cooperation within the area. Examples include the reunification of North and South Korea and the greater South East Asia which puts together the ASEAN and Indochina region. Cold War dimensions were also exhibited in the conflict that pitted India against Pakistan.

Economic policies form part of the preconditions that necessitate regional integration to take place. It is essential that economic policies be compatible before states can engage in an interactive process. Due to an autarkic ambition for some states to gain regional control, the process of regionalization is hampered. Regional integration as a result of similar market principles and shared commitment is a normal phenomenon but fee trade areas are responsible for tensions which eventually lead to an erosion of the arrangement. Globally, credit is monopolized by institutions like the IMF and World Bank where there are weaker clients. Conditions set for accessing the credit system and the conditional aspects of the economy contribute to the homogenization of the rules meant for the global economic game. In regionalization, the rules are subjected to different modifications with the aim of suiting the interests of various regions without rendering the global free trade regime violated this is known as open regionalism. When economic policies become homogenized, they pave way for spontaneous regionalization which brings new regimes to power spontaneously. The process occurs as a political decision just like the political and economic union through the Maastricht. Similar powers are also simultaneously brought to power. The decision set the process for further harmonization of the economic policies which is achieved through a criterion known as the convergence criteria. This is done to avoid the prolonged existence of two different camps with a difference in speed.

Political regimes are favored through a democratization process that is pushed by strong forces with a global presence. The number of democratic states in 1991 went beyond that of the undemocratic states. This development was a result of new...

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