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Regional Integration- Can It Happen In Other Parts Of The World.

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The European Union (EU) is by far the most advanced form of cooperation between independent sovereign countries today. Despite the great diversity in culture of its member states, in its integration the EU has established characteristics of a single state; its own parliament, justice system and a single market with one currency. The Europeans are the first to create this model where countries give up a part of their sovereignty to gain other benefits, but it is my opinion that as time progresses, and given that the EU model will prove itself, we will see more countries in different parts of the world integrating and forming similar unions.

In order to form such alliances a nation-state must give up a part of its sovereignty, the right to control its own territory and be independent of any other state. Today, in the modern age of globalization, sovereignty is being challenged by a number of factors even without willingly sacrificing a part of it for the purpose of integration. The free market economy makes it possible for major companies to affect national economies very highly without the government being able to control it, for example if all foreign direct investment is pulled out of a specific country. Other factors such as global communications, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and more also challenge the government's control of their territories.

The awareness of international protection of human rights and humanitarian law is also an increasing factor in challenging sovereignty because it calls for international groups to intervene in domestic state affairs. Even though Krasner does not view this issue as an unprecedented challenge he gives the example of the Yugoslavian successor state which was forced to accept constitutional provisions guaranteeing minority rights in order to receive international recognition, thus proving that it does play a major role.

The factors mentioned above are affecting the world's countries and there is not much they can do to prevent the loss of sovereignty. This can influence countries to willingly give up a part of their sovereignty, which in fact is being nibbled away regardless, to integrate and at least benefit from their loss. There are several benefits which derive from integration.

First, the integration and cross-national ties make it less likely that member states will go to war with one another. This is a major benefit for member states, especially in Europe where throughout history they were constantly at war with each other and at times with the whole world. Not fearing war has many economic affects as well. Imagine Israel integrating with its neighbors in the Middle East and can now reduce its security budget and allocate the funds to education or welfare.

Second, the pooling of political, economic and social powers gives the alliance much greater power then each member state individually. The pooling of political power creates a greater chance for the alliance to become a unified global actor which can influence global issues such as the US do today. The pooling of economic and social resources as well as a single market and freedom of cross-border movement allows the creation of a great economic power which can compete with the leaders of the global economy, the US and Japan.

Finally, member states will always strive to improve and eventually resemble the leading member states in different fields. States can apply political pressure to bring about economic reforms in member states which are poorer. They can also help by investing in the weaker countries. Member states may also be pressured in other fields such as social welfare or environmental protection.

Even though there are many benefits to integrating there are also some costs to this loss of sovereignty. The member states are also losing

a part of their national independence and identity. The local government looses some of its powers to the creation of the central government which is detached from the interest and concerns of the member state's citizens. The creation of a single market also poses threats to the local market due to increasing competition from other member states and the freedom of the people to migrate and work where they choose to. Finally, the removal of barriers of cross-border movement makes it much easier for drug trafficking and terrorist activities. Despite these factors and due to the growing interdependency of the world's actors not many countries resort to isolation; those that do, such as North Korea, find themselves in bad shape.

Integration in Europe did not occur overnight. It began as an economic treaty in the 1950s uniting six country's coal and steel industries to form the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). This economic treaty did so well that it attracted

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