Kühnhardt, Ludger. (2005) Northeast Asia: Obstacles to Regional Integration - The interests of the European Union. ZEI Discussion Papers C. 152, 2005. [Discussion Paper]
[From the Introduction]. Northeast Asia is a paradoxical region. While its economic dynamism provides global stability, its geopolitical conflicts generate global uncertainty. No other region in the world is oscillating between a truly 21st century aspiration to define, master and promote globalization based on technological achievements and a 19th century type of geopolitical parameters coupled with an irritating set of “left-overs” from 20th century regime controversies over totalitarian rule and strategic antagonisms defined by the era of the Cold War. While a lot of energy has been spend to develop recommendations for viable mechanisms of regional integration in Northeast Asia – including the valuable distinction between economic regionalism, political regionalism, and security regionalism1 - much less attention has been given to an honest analysis of the obstacles to it. This effort must begin with a sober definition of the type of regional integration one has in mind. As for the European Union, regional integration means the supranational pooling of sovereignty, a law-based and politically-driven form of multi-level governance and an increasing political role based on the strength of a common market. Whether or not the European experience can or should be emulated elsewhere is, of course, a matter of debate. But to assess the conditions of Northeast Asia from a European perspective will always have this European experience in mind. European Regional integration might follow contingent methods and goals. There is no one-dimensional logic of regional integration. But successful regional integration must be a win-win-situation for all its constituent members. Cooperation can bring together conflicting parties for a limited purpose and a precisely framed scope of common interests. Cooperation can become sustainable, but it can also be dissolved after having achieved its goal or exhausted its time. Integration requires the inner transformation of the constituent members of an integration scheme in order to become viable and lasting. Integration requires the transformation from cooperation by choice to commonality by destiny. This has not happened in Northeast Asia yet.
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