The rapid growth and changing character of regional organisations, since the end of the Cold War, has been one of the defining characteristics of the international system. Far from being exclusively state-led undertakings, regional organisations have come to include a wide variety of actors. Regionalism, in other words, has become a mainstay of the current international system.
As part of its research program on “Europe and world governance”, Notre Europe has monitored the development of regionalism by periodically launching studies on regional integration in certain geographic areas (Mercosur, Asean, etc.). These studies sought to take stock of the development of regionalism in different areas while also investigating the interrelationship between these diverse projects of regional integration and the EU as a reference point for regional integration elsewhere.
This study draws together some of the relevant findings from these studies in order to understand the potential contribution of regionalism to global governance as the world enters a new era of multipolarity. The study finds that with the dawn of a more multipolar global order, regionalism can be expected to move into a new phase of its developments that is likely to differ in its shape from the “new regionalism” of the previous two decades. While this new phase is likely to witness a turn towards à la carte multilateralism and a resurgence of great power politics at some level, the study is sanguine about the prospects that regionalism will continue to remain an important element of global governance in the future.