Indicators of Regional Integration: Conceptual and Methodological Issues

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UNU Institute on Regional Integration Studies
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UNU-CRIS Occasional Papers
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Adequate monitoring tools for regional integration processes would allow better (regional) policy design and implementation, better scrutiny and participation by all stakeholders and affected groups and individuals, as well as more in depth academic analysis of these complex social transformation processes. The aim of this paper is to explore the conceptual and methodological aspects related to building a system of indicators of regional integration (SIRI). The authors show that there are multiple and interconnected issues to be considered, and that choices need to be made, related to: the kind of users and producers involved in its design; the underlying concepts and theories; the scope of the system and level(s) of analysis; the adequate selection and organisation of the variables; the balance between quantitative indicators and qualitative assessments; and the “correct” observation and construction of indicators. Future attempts to implement monitoring tools for regional integration processes, launched at the regional, interregional or supranational levels, will require due consideration of these issues raised and answers to the questions posed. The attempts will only have a chance to succeed if conceptual, technical, political, institutional and organisational aspects are simultaneously addressed.