How to 'connect' micro-regions with macro-regions? A Note (9 pages)
Three types of connections can thereby be distinguished. A first type is
‘complementarity’, where both developments go hand-in-hand (i.e. they have the same
sign). There can be one-way or two-way causality. Macro-regions, can, for example,
promote cross-border micro-regionalism in a ‘top-down’ fashion through particular
policies and incentives that target the border areas, as in the cases of the EU and the
Andean Community (CAN). Another example of top-down complementarity, of neo-
institutionalist inspiration, is a case where macro-regionalism leads to more ‘trust’ among
the parties on both sides of the borders so that cross-border cooperation to address
common policy challenges or to manage shared resources becomes more likely (Schiff and
Winters, 2002). Macro-regionalism can also lead to more cross-border micro-regionalism
when border zones become ‘more central’ in the new regional context. This argument is
supported by the new economic geography.
Bottom-up complementarity is also possible
when, for example, intense de facto cross-border interaction calls for a regulatory framework
and thus induces a demand for macro-regional institutions.
Under a second type of connection both regionalisms also move in the same
direction but causalities are less clear; the relationship is of a systemic nature. In other
words, they are determined by a common set of variables of historical, cultural,
institutional, political or economic nature. An example could be the East Asian case where
the ‘Asian way’ is reflected both at the macro-regional (ASEAN, ASEAN+3, etc) and the
micro-regional level (growth triangles).
Finally, a third type of connection refers to situations in which macro-regional and
cross-border micro-regionalism are competitors or substitutes of each other. One
regionalism fills the governance gaps left by the (malfunctioning) other regionalism, or the
two regionalisms follow incompatible and competing development models, driven by
opposed political agendas and interests. The new regionalism approach, very much
conscious of the variety of regionalisms and varying degrees of regionness, might be
compatible with this type of connection. However, this approach also emphasizes that
both regionalisms respond to similar logics and sets of variables related to globalization, so
that the systemic connection might also apply.