Is Africa Really Following Europe? An Integrated Framework for Comparative Regionalism

Publication Date: 
08 October 2015
Appearing in: 
JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies
Abstract: 

Since the establishment of the AU (African Union) in 2002, there have been indications that Africa may be following in Europe's footsteps in the process of regional integration. But is this really so? This article argues that, while there is an increasing focus on comparative regionalism in scholarly debates, we have not yet developed frameworks for empirical comparative research in this field. This often leads analysts to draw general conclusions from cases of institutional isomorphism, thus neglecting other critical dimensions. By applying an integrated framework, which takes into account the multi-dimensional aspects of old and new regionalisms, this article shows that the most critical features of the European regionalization process, from the gradual stepwise approach towards shared sovereignty to the focus on trade integration and social cohesion, are largely absent from Africa's regionalism, which presents unique characters that are often overshadowed by traditional analyses.