Regionalization and Globalization in the Modern World Economy: Perspectives on the Third World and Transitional Economies

By Alex E. Fernández Jilberto; André Mommen | Go to book overview

7

THE EUROPEAN UNION AND ITS EXPANDING EASTERN AND SOUTHERN BORDERS

Alvaro Pinto Scholtbach

INTRODUCTION

Technological changes and increased competition with Newly Industrializing Countries have obliged all governments in the industrialized world to reconsider their position vis-à-vis the globalizing economy and to mobilize their economic and intellectual resources to manage the embryonic international order. Regional integration has occupied a central place in this management. The distinguishing feature of Europe’s regional integration is its long-standing and gradually expanding record; its ‘depth’ with its far-reaching liberalization of factor markets and the proclaimed path towards further integration in political areas. This ‘Europe’ is, on the other hand, part of an era when the East-West and North-South divides are undergoing thoroughgoing changes and the emergence of free trade areas is making the West European model of regional integration less attractive because of its institutional constraints. The same changes in the world stage underline at the same time the priority being given by the major political actors in Europe to the completion of the ongoing process. The radical internationalization of the global economy and the impact of the collapse of communism have inevitably made the European Union a main international player with all the costs and benefits these changes bring. The autonomous changes in the world require policies of accommodation within the EU as well as regarding its relations with its main (extra-)regional partners. On the political field, the strategic changes of the post-Cold War age have revived the old ambitions of the key players in Europe to once again become leaders in international politics. The first, though cautious, step to address this political ambition was taken in 1992 with the adoption of the Treaty on European Union, the Maastricht Treaty. Crucial in this respect was, and still is, the question regarding the future relationship with the United States. The issue has reappeared on the agenda, partly because of the geopolitical changes provoked by the 1989-91 revolution, partly as a consequence of the ongoing politics of international trade. The latter is not totally new, but it has certainly received a major boost from the current globalization Zeitgeist. The issue at stake regards the USA remaining a natural European partner or becoming a strong competitor in the world stage and the consequences this might

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