The Promotion of Regional Economic Integration in the EU’s Neighbourhood: CEFTA 2006 and the Agadir Agreement
Regional integration scores alluringly high on the hit list of the most promising cures for the world’s major problems. Undoubtedly, the European Union has considerable experience in developing a sophisticated regional integration scheme – but does it possess the ‘magic formula’ for fostering integration in other parts of the world? This paper asks how and why the European Union promotes regional economic integration in its neighbourhood and to what extent it is successful. We argue that as a ‘normative power’ the EU aims both at exporting its norms and values and at increasing its security by stabilising its neighbourhood. We assess the EU’s success in promoting the regional trade agreements located in the Western Balkans (CEFTA 2006) and the Mediterranean (Agadir Agreement). The findings of these two case studies show that the EU pursues different political objectives with its support on a general political level as well as through concrete financial and technical assistance programmes. Although the existence of an EU membership perspective has an influence, the Union is not necessarily more successful in promoting regional economic integration among (potential) candidate countries.