How to 'connect' micro-regions with macro-regions? A Note (9 pages)

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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.

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