Regional integration refers to a process where neighboring states agree to intensify their cooperation through common rules and common institutions. While the European integration process with the European Union (EU) is by far the most extensive example of regional integration, similar processes has been launched both in Africa (African Union), Asia (ASEAN).
Regional integration can be organized either via supranational institutional structures or through intergovernmental decision-making, or a combination of both.
Regional integration often starts with a removal of barriers to free trade in the region, increasing the free movement of people, labour, goods, and capital across national borders, reducing the possibility of regional armed conflict and adopting cohesive regional stances on policy issues, such as the environment, climate change and migration.
Regional integration in Europe is by far the most extensive integration process. It started out as a peace project after the end of the second world war (in the 1950s) and was consolidated with the Treaty on the European Union (the Maastricht Treaty), which came into force in November 1993 and established the European Union. Since then it has continued to develop and to adapt to a changing geopolitical and intra-European context.
Examples of NUPI's research areas on regional integration includes:
- The European Union (the EU) and EEA
- The African Union
- Nordic cooperation
- Regional integration in Asia and Eurasia (ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU))