The Relevance of the European Union Integration Experience to the African Union’s Integration Process

- 24 June 2020

Trade topics: Regional Integration, African Union, European Union

A casual look at Europe’s and Africa’s experiences of integration suggests that they share certain similarities. They have also adopted a number of similar institutions and policy frameworks, and both regions have set for themselves the ambitious target of creating economic communities for their respective regions. They, however, have followed different historical trajectories of integration, which challenges the notion that the similarities in their adopted institutions of integration could be an attempt by the African Union (AU) to mimic the European Union (EU) integration experience. This argument has typically been used as an explanation for the implementation challenges that the AU-led integration process faces. This chapter brings a contribution to this discussion by interrogating the notion that the African Union is attempting to mimic the EU experience of integration. It makes the argument that there are other plausible explanations for the implementation lapses of the African Union-led integration process, though these do not completely rule out the notion that the European Union is being looked upon as an authoritative model from which the African Union could glean important lessons for its integration agenda. The chapter further examines the relevance and applicability of the European Union experience of integration and concludes that there are certainly elements of the European experience that are both relevant and would be applicable to the AU’s integration agenda. It highlights a number of these relevant elements in the form of lessons that the AU could draw from the EU’s experience to advance its integration agenda.
[This research is part of the publication The Palgrave Handbook of African Political Economy]