Regional Integration and (Good) Regional Governance: Are Common Standards and Indicators Possible?

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UNU Institute on Regional Integration Studies
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UNU-CRIS Occasional Papers
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This paper is intended to complement classifications of regional integration processes made according to individual descriptive categories, by considering regional systems as wholes in the broader perspective of governance. This means not only assessing individual dimensions of regional institutionalisation but also evaluating the interaction between those dimensions as well as the basic ‘fit’ between formal structures and real processes of interdependence, solidarity and socialisation. The paper focuses on the challenge of citizen participation and the involvement of civil society organisations in different kinds of regionalisation process. It challenges some conventional views, largely premised on assumptions about the experience of the European Community, as to the role of formal fora for social and economic representation, as well as of regional parliamentary structures. It also highlights some of the dilemmas involved in establishing bases for legitimacy of regional systems. Particular regional models and structures do not inherently have any greater merit than others. Nor can particular structures of democratic government drawn from national experience ever be simply transferred to regional level. The guiding principles can only be the effectiveness and appropriateness of institutional arrangements in individual contexts, seen in the light of certain common basic standards of democratic behaviour. It is thus argued that, beneath the necessary variety of goals and structures across the world, it is valid to establish some universal principles of good governance which permit a certain degree of evaluation. In this sense, the paper is a first attempt to explore the possibilities and limits of establishing standards and indicators of ‘good regional governance’.