The Evolution of Supranational Regionalism: From Top-down Regulatory Governance to Sustainability Regions?
Supranational regionalism has been a definitive feature of world politics in the 20th century. Regional organizations have grown in numbers and roles, amid the general quest for economic integration and globalization. Yet, in the past few years, regional integration appears to have run out of steam, especially in the aftermath of the global economic crisis. The top-down model of governance and its trade-driven nature are increasingly contested in a phase of economic contraction. Against such a backdrop, this article analyzes the historical and conceptual evolution of regionalism in order to identify some of its key (albeit often ‘hidden’) characteristics. It then ventures into charting its potential future trajectory and concludes that a new type of ‘deep’ regionalism may very well replace economic globalization as the dominant world structure in the 21st century.