Regional Integration, Fragility and Institution Building

An analytical framework applied to the African context

Background paper to the ERD2009

Author

Thierry Verdier – ERD Team member, Paris School of Economics

Workshop/conference

Paper prepared for the Conference on “Moving Towards the European Report on Development 2009”, organised by the European Report of Development in Florence, Italy, 21-23 June, 2009

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how regional integration processes may contribute to state-building and promote exit from fragility for countries characterised by weak state institutions. After presenting a simple conceptual framework to discuss the effects of external and regional integration on fragile states, we analyse the policy trade-offs that may arise in such contexts. The paper then reviews the specific regional experiences of Sub-Saharan countries and their inter-actions with fragility issues. Finally, we discuss policy implications for the EU in the context of its regional trade and development policies with African fragile countries. The central conclusions of the analysis are the following: I) a two-tier approach to regional integration, which combines both top-down and bottom-up processes, is necessary; 2) the EU approach to regional integration in Africa should promote “Building-Blocks” and not “Stumbling-Blocks”; and 3) specific considerations should be given to make the trade integration strategy “fragility responsive”.

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