With so many different political and economical unions and organizations to choose from, I have decided to write my essay on the comparing of regional governance between the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, also known as ASEAN. I will begin by describing both of the organizations and what their purpose and goals are. I then will provide an analysis of similarities and differences between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Additionally, I will conclude with which organization is more effective and why.
As these organizations began to emerge, there were some new theories that lent a hand to explain what the theory of Realism could not. Realism and Neo-Realism soon began to fade out of the spot light after the first and second World Wars. One of these new theories is Constructivism. Once the Cold war ended in 1989, the notion for a greater need of human security was at hand. The theory of Constructivism has increased in notoriety since the later part of the twentieth century, during the 1990’s. Alexander Wednt states that Constructivism points out that social facts are human creations. Constructivists like Wednt believe that the norms, customs and education can change a state’s citizens in conduct as well as interest. It is not only manifested by the material structure, but by the international community as well. There are a few similarities, but mostly differences between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The primary similarity between ASEAN and the EU is that they are both organizations that are made up of multinational groups, within regions of the world that are concentrating on overcoming past conflicts with the promotion of encouragement and integration amongst their respected region’s nations. With this being said, the differences between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the European Union are numerous. The key discrepancy is The European Union promotion of a much deeper integration. We see this through a free market of goods than ASEAN. The EU has adopted a system that is modeled after a customs union, thus the requirement of a single tariff on goods travelling within the borders of the European Union. All member states are required to impose the same duties towards goods produced by non-member nations. While products produced within the European Union do not have such duties imposed on them. ASEAN on the other hand, has adopted more of a free trade zone, and believes in a code of non-interference. This means that the member states of ASEAN may impose duties as they see fitting, and no common policy for imports is applied. The European Union also uses a standard currency amongst its members, as ASEAN does not. This is why the European Union is the more effective regional organization compared to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
To begin with, people may find themselves asking how the European Union and ASEAN came to be. The European Union and the Association of Southeast Nations were formed by what Barry Buzan and other realists describes as “the great power politics of the international realm”. The European Union was created in 1951 towards the beginning of the Cold War era. At the end of the Second World War, the European Continent was besieged and in shambles. As the European nations worked to rebuild their economies, governments and infrastructures, the ever looming presence of communism shadowed them in the east via Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. In order for Europe to improve itself and to minimize future conflicts and wars, along with the prevention of the spread of communism to the west, many leaders of the European states acknowledged that something should be done. With this being said, the labor on the creation of the regional institution had begun.
The European Union consists of 28 member nations currently, and spans over 1,728,099 square miles. Though formed in 1993, The European Union traces its early stages to the end of the Second World War with unification of France, Belgium, Germany, Luxemburg, Italy and the Netherlands to form the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950. This was done in order to form a more united Europe and to end wars between neighboring states and to keep Germany at bay. In the early years of the Cold War, protests and division between eastern and western Europe signified that there was a significant need for additional European unification. With this being said, the Treaty of Rome was formed and signed in 1957 as a result to creating the European Economic Community. Thus allowing for the free movement of goods and people throughout the continent. This would eventually lead to the Single European Act of 1987 which created a single market for trade. The primary goal of the European Union is to defend its values of respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom and equality. All members are required to be a democratic nation as well as believe in the rule of law. If a nation does not recognize these values, they cannot become a member of the union.
Member states of the European Union must be pluralistic, meaning that no one state may be discriminated against. The citizens and government representitives of each member state are required to respect and be tolerant of each other and share responsibility. There is fair treatment amongst everyone including minorities.
The structure of the European Union is quite interesting. Though there are several offices, administrations and committees, there are three main institutions that are involved in the organization’s legislation. The first of the institutions is the European Parliament. The parliament is involved with representing the citizens of member states, whom directly elect officials to represent them. The second is the Council of the European Union. Together with the European Parliament, the European Council is the primary decision-making body of the union. They negotiate and set laws for the European Union, as well as coordinate member nations polices and developing the Union’s foreign and security policies to name a few. The third institution is the European Commission. This branch of the legislature is responsible for representing the governments of the member nations in the European Union. In other words, the commissioners protect the interests of the citizens and the EU itself which cannot be dealt with at the national level.
In similarity to the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, otherwise known as ASEAN, was created due to the Cold War and the spread of Communism, along with the United States military presence within the region. Many other nations, such as China, were vying for the position of dominance in the South China Sea as well. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was established in 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration otherwise known as the Bangkok Declaration. The declaration was formatted and signed by the founding states that included Thailand, The Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Eventually, the number of members would increase to ten. In a January 2009 article of The International and Comparative Law Quarterly states that the purpose of ASEAN lies within its ability to reduce conflict between Southeast Asian nations, and to provide regional stability. The goals of ASEAN include the increase of economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors. It also promotes regional peace through the continuation of respect for the rule of law and to deliver support together with research facilities together in education, economic, social, cultural and administrative fields.
The fundamental principles of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations consist of the communal respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all member states. The right for every nation to exist free of interference and coercions as well as the settlement of differences and/or disputes to be settled in a peaceful manner are a few to be mentioned.
On December 8, 2008 the member nations of ASEAN gathered to unveil a new charter. This charter is known as the ASEAN Charter. Once implemented, the ASEAN Charter allowed for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to move closer to a European Union style structure, that is much broader than the union itself. The ASEAN summit is the utmost legislation body of the association. It consists of ASEAN heads of state and meets twice a year. The second body is the ASEAN Coordinating Council. This body consists of ASEAN foreign ministers and meets twice a year like the summit. The purpose of the Coordinating Council is to decide the standards and procedures for ASEAN’s engagement with foreign states and organizations. Also included among the ASEAN councils are the Political Security Community Council, the Economic Community Council and the Socio-Cultural Community Council.
As one can see by the information provided in this paper, the format laid out by the European Union is a better plan than the one provided by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The European Union provides its members with better opportunities and greater protection than the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
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Tsai, Yu-tai. “THE EMERGENCE OF HUMAN SECURITY: A CONSTRUCTIVIST VIEW.” International Journal of Peace Studies, vol. 14, no. 2, 2009, pp. 19–33. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41852991.
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