Goals of Regional Integration: a Modern Understanding

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-10-5-14
O. Butorina (butorina@ieras.ru),
Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, 11-3, Mokhovaya Str., Moscow, 125009 Russian Federation

Received 27.05.2021.

Abstract. To date, an extensive scholarly literature on regional integration has paid little attention to the question of its goals. However, it is fundamental for deeper understanding the nature of the phenomena and for the decision-making process at the national, regional and international levels. The objective of this article is to reveal declared and de facto pursued goals of regional integration, and to arrange them into a coherent system. To accomplish this task this paper first provides an overview of official goals stated in the founding agreements of various regional groups, formed by developed and developing countries in Europe, Asia and Americas. Then the question of goals is explored through the lenses of the key theories of regional economic integration and their practical application. Later a similar exercise is carried out in the context of political integration theories. Finally, based on the comprehensive analysis of official declarations, major theories of regional integration and practical developments in various regions and policy fields this paper categorizes main goals of regional integration into four groups compiled along two axes: internal and external, positive and negative. They form a matrix, which endows researchers with new optics. Further exploration of different types of integration goals, especially negatively oriented ones, has a potential to expand the research program of integration studies. They may also shed light on the debate over why regional blocks of developing countries stall at the level of free trade zones or why the creation of the European monetary union did not help the EU to move to the true political union.

Keywords: regional integration, integration theory, EAEU, MERCOSUR, ASEAN, USMCA, RCEP, European Union


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For citation:
Butorina O. Goals of Regional Integration: a Modern Understanding. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 10, pp. 5-14. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-10-5-14

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