Regionalism and Governance in Europe and the Middle East: A New Way Forward
National interests are the main reason for expanding economic, political, and even cultural cooperation between countries.
Given the current economic trend towards integration and globalization, regional cooperation can play an essential role in countries’ broader presence in the international arena.
For several years, more international trade presence has been one of the central transnational policies of economic policymakers.
Over the past few decades, the global economy has witnessed huge trade liberalizations in trade, strengthening transnationalism policy among governments.
This move, which began with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and is now being pursued by the World Trade Organization, has profoundly impacted the global economy.
European governance and regionalism
Regional convergence has traditionally meant trade liberalization and national sovereignty.
Under a local trade agreement, two or more economies can reduce trade barriers and pursue their trade policy in their interests.
The flow of regionalism began in Europe after World War II with the Coal and Steel Community in 1956.
The European Union is the world’s third-largest population after India and China. The Euro’s conversion into the world’s second most crucial reserve currency and trade has helped increase the Union’s international influence.
The Union is the world’s largest trading hub, accounting for 30% of global trade.
Brussels has always sought to implement a normative foreign policy by presenting a different model as a software power in crisis management, peace prevention, and economic reconstruction.
Besides, the expansion and generalization of European standards at the international system’s level and the influence on the policies of its partners and economic and trade parties are other policies of the Union.
Even during Brexit, the main reason for the dispute between London and Brussels was the transnational interests of the Union, which led to a stalemate between the UK and the Union.
After the UK’s withdrawal from the Union, there may be differences of opinion, methods, and methodologies among the members on various issues.
Experience shows that regionalism leads to the convergence and unification of trade-related policies at the regional level, strengthens transnationalism ideals, and accelerates global liberalization.
As a result, regionalism helps to transition from weak global convergence to deep global convergence.
But after the COVID-19 pandemic, the disintegration of the Union’s regional system was affected and each member considered the national interest before the transnational interest.
Countries such as Portugal and Italy, especially after the Union fails in international politics, wonder whether a return to nationalist claims can be right or not.
It can therefore be said that the stability of European transnationalism is currently in a state of ambiguity.
Regional governance in the Middle East
The Middle East’s current situation is reminiscent of Europe during the centuries and years before forming the European Union.
Europe has been embroiled in bloody wars for centuries due to political, colonial, and religious rivalries until the rulers of this ancient continent finally concluded that cooperation was far better than competition.
It was in pursuit of this belief that the European Union came into being.
The Middle East now needs an EU-like mechanism to overcome the destructive rivalries of regional governments. The Middle East region is bleeding due to competition between different parties.
The extravagance of provincial governments, on the one hand, and the existence of terrorist groups such as Islamic State, have destabilized the region.
Having looked at Europe’s history, we will find that the cause of the Thirty Years’ War, the First and Second World Wars, was nothing but the extravagance and fear of nations.
Countries have fought each other for more power and influence and for fear of being destroyed by others. The ideologies that led to these devastating wars were based on two elements: competition and fear.
The conflicts in the Middle East also stem from these categories, namely cmopetition and anxiety, and to overcome these two destructive factors; a mechanism must be created that can be suitable for peacefully resolving conflicts.
Accordingly, if the heads of state of the Middle East continue to pursue hostility and do not stop the conflicts that are going on in the Middle East today, the region will continue to be turmoiled by war.
In such a situation, the only thing that can save Europe is the member states’ cooperation in transnationalism ideas. Middle Eastern rulers must also think about their fate because no power in the region can ultimately defeat the other parties and expand its dominance.
The starting point could be forming a commission with the three supreme powers in the region – Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
The officials of these three countries can meet and resolve their differences within the framework of this council. In such a framework, the region, like the European Union, will have a joint parliament for itself, and gradually other countries will join the Union.
Then, all nations will use their financial resources for the region’s economic development, and of course, we can talk about regional and transnational sovereignty in the Middle East.
In essence, when countries share their concerns, fears, and threats, they can focus on growth and prosperity, civil rights, human rights, and quality of life and forget security concerns in the shadow of regional governance and transnationalism.
In the long run, if there is no change in the type of collaboration, the region’s capacities will not be used, and the development of the economy will remain limited.
Besides, collaboration is useful when all the countries in a union act according to the rules and based on shared interests and feel this cooperation’s effects.
Ultimately, the formation of multilateral associations and institutions between countries is a necessity of the present age because each state has its strengths in a particular direction.
These strengths, in combination, will bring significant benefits and even pursue regional and supra-regional sovereignty.
The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Greek City Times.
About the author:
Amin Bagheri is a Research Fellow at the International Studies Association in Tehran. His primary research interest lies in international relations, peace and conflicts in the Middle East.