Judging by the number of ambitious regional political projects launched in recent years, regional political integration is one of the most powerful political processes and trends of our time. Historically, however, such integration, understood as the growing coordination of the policies of governments of geographically proximate states, is a phenomenon which has occurred very unevenly across space and time.
The contributions to this volume, Regional Integration in Asia and Europe, Convergence or Divergence?, explore recent and prospective future trends of regional political integration in different issue-areas in two of the world's most important regions, Europe and East Asia. A
lthough the two regions are very divergent in terms of current levels of political integration, the launching of several bold new projects for closer cooperation between states in East, including Southeast, Asia, combined with the fact that regional organizations in both East Asia and Europe have been or are currently grappling with numerous essentially similar challenges - ranging from monetary integration or cooperation and enlargement to issues of institutional reform and regional crisis management - raises the issue of whether East Asia may be undergoing something comparable to the post-World War II process of political integration in Europe and whether, in this respect, the two regions may be converging.
Collectively, the contributions indeed suggest that the currently stark divergence between the two regions, in terms of regional political integration, may diminish. It is unlikely, however, that East Asian political integration will replicate the specific form of integration, distinguished by relatively strong supranational organs, that has emerged in Europe. It is also possible that convergence may occur primarily as a consequence of an erosion of current levels of integration in Europe, whose 'exceptional' post-World War II evolution in this regard may have been the effect of a highly contingent configuration of political forces that no longer obtains in a post-Cold War EU comprising a much larger number of increasingly diverse member states.
Regional Integration in Asia and Europe comprises 16 chapters by political scientists from 13 countries in Asia and Europe.