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Regional Integration, Fragility and Institution Building: An Analytical Framework Applied to the African Context

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how regional integration processes may contribute to statebuilding 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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