Research Questions on Saarc Regional Cooperation

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					                               Title of the paper

 Regional Peace and Security through Economic Integration: The
              Applicability of EU Model in SAARC

                                  Submitted by

                            Md. Golam Robbani
                                PhD Researcher
United Nations University—Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS)
                          B-8000, Brugge, Belgium
                             Tel: +32 50 471301
                             Fax: +32 50 471309

Regional Peace and Security through Economic Integration: The Applicability of EU

                               Model in SAARC


There is little doubt that the overarching objective of European integration was to
attain regional security— specifically „to make another war impossible‟. Recognizing
that political integration was difficult to carry out at first step, the founding fathers
decisively took the indirect i.e. economic route to accomplish the goal. The success of
the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was one of the most important
milestones en route to deeper integration in Europe.

India-Pakistan political deadlock has appeared as a similar problem to South Asian
region, which has virtually blocked the progress of the South Asian Association for
Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Interestingly textiles and clothing (T&C) industry is
somewhat common to most of the South Asian nations— as the coal and steel
industry was to the European nations during the initial years of EU formation.

The research will cover how EU got into higher stages of sociopolitical integration
through economic means. Studying carefully the formation of ECSC up to the latest
developments in the EU process, the researcher intends to compare it with the
progress and achievements so far in SAARC, which was established in mid 1980s.
Highlighting the pros and cons to the two processes and their relatives similarities and
dissimilarities, the study will try to find out how far the political problems could be
minimized in SAARC following the EU process of regional integration. With this
view in mind, this paper intends to critically evaluate the role of ECSC in the EU and
to test the feasibility of forming something like a “South Asian Textile and Clothing
Community” in SAARC.

Being aware of the fact that neither any single model can be a panacea for others nor
that the „one size fits all‟, the main objective of this study is to critically evaluate how
far the EU model could be applicable in solving regional political tensions in other
regions e.g. in South Asia. As a test case, this study will examine how far the textiles
and clothing industry can play a similar role for SAARC as coal and steel did in case
of EU—taking into account the socioeconomic, political and religious asymmetries in
the two regions.

Although apparently it seems that economic integrations help minimize political
tensions among member states—as it did in case of Europe, the main challenge at
hand is how to prove it quantitatively and what sort of variables should one consider
to prove it? The researcher wishes to seek help to find a way-out to such a problem
encountered in writing his PhD thesis. The researcher strongly hopes that the
proposed seminar will be very helpful in gaining ideas to analyze the issue.

 Regional Peace and Security through Economic Integration: The
              Applicability of EU Model in SAARC


The European Coal and Coal Community (ECSC) created a framework of production

and distribution arrangement for coal and steel and set up an autonomous institutional

system to manage it during the hard days since 1950s. Although its remit is limited to

the two branches of industry, the ECSC has had a crucial impact on major economic

and political developments in Europe. The ECSC was a precursor of the original form

of organization, which characterizes today‟s European Union, consisting of an

autonomous regulatory system run by independent institutions vested with the power

and authority needed to make the system work. Within that framework, the ECSC has

made a significant contribution to the peace, stability, prosperity and solidarity. As it

is believed that the EU is the best model of regional integration so far, there is an

implicit argument that it should be replicated elsewhere, particularly where regional

integration is stuck with political deadlock. This research is an attempt to test the

feasibility of replicating the EU model in SAARC to pave the way for economic

development through deeper economic integration and conflict resolution.

Objective of this write-up

The objective of this paper is not to talk about the research findings of the thesis but

to highlight the problems faced by the researcher in analyzing the facts scientifically.

In particular, the researcher wishes to know how to prove that deeper economic

engagement deters war. The following sections will highlight practical problems

encountered by the researcher.

Similarities and dissimilarities between EU and SAARC

The main objective of the founding fathers of the EU was to make “another war

impossible” in Europe. Apparently, it can be claimed that the objective has been

achieved. However, although the objective was political in nature, the route was

overwhelmingly economic1. The establishment of ECSC was the first step forward to

EU integration. The common interest of the member states, terrible memories of the

World War II, the further threat of cold war and, last but not least, excellent plan of

Robert Schuman and the brilliant leadership quality of Jean Monnet (among others)

converted the dream into reality. Above all, the supranational structure of the High

Authority of ECSC was one of the most important factors for a successful start up of

the integration process.

In South Asia, India and Pakistan are the major economic/political partners in the

SAARC region. They share a good commonality between them. Although there is no

external threat like that of the then cold war in Europe, there is a subtle threat of

religious conflicts attached to the Kashmir issue. Any incident in Kashmir is bound to

have serious repercussion in both the countries. For decades, the issue has created

endured economic and human sufferings to both the countries. As a result of this,

desired progress in SAARC has also been caught up. Recently pressure from rapid

liberalization and globalization has been an external factor to push deeper integration

at the top of the agenda.

Searching for an industry with common interest to all

During the 1950s in the EU, coal and steal were the strategic and promising industries

for obvious reasons. Therefore, leaders of those days took the proposal of ECSC

seriously and engaged a difficult but successful negotiation to push their respective

 Baldwin, Richard and Charles Wyplosz (2004) “The Economics of European Union”, McGraw Hill
Education, UK. p. 26.

interest. In South Asia, textiles and clothing is an industry where all the member states

of SAARC have common interest. The T&C could be treated as important and

strategic one in the sense that it is directly related to employment of a vast population

(skilled and unskilled alike) in the region and hence is directly related to poverty.

Trade liberalization in general and abolition of quota system from T&C in particular

has opened a wide prospect for T&C export from South Asia. Recent surge of export

of T&C from China may compel South Asian leaders to agree on forming a South

Asian Textile and Apparel Community (SATAC) similar to the ECSC in Europe2.

Use of economics to solve problems of politics

It is widely believed that deeper economic engagement brings down political tension

between member states. Today‟s European Union is a glaring example, which is

claimed to be the most successful regional integration arrangements in the world. The

challenge, however, is to replicate this so-called successful initiative in other areas of

the world, particularly where intrastate conflict is the main hindrance to trade and

development. Kashmir is a conflicting issue between India and Pakistan. Since long

past, this has been a political deadlock between the two countries and has appeared as

the main obstacle to the progress in deeper regional integration through the SAARC.

The proposed PhD thesis entitled “Regional Peace and Security through Economic

Integration: The Applicability of EU Model in SAARC” is intended to test the

feasibility and possibility of replicating the EU model in SAARC.

 For detail please see Robbani, Md. Golam (2004) “Enhancing Collective Export Competitiveness on
Textiles and Clothing: A Study of Select South Asian Countries”, CUTS-CITEE Research Report
#0428, CUTS, Jaipur, India.

Problems in linking economic integration and regional conflict

Intuitively it may be apparent that deeper economic integrations discourage war.

Greater economic engagement, mainly through intra-regional trade, makes war too

expensive, which encourages politicians to solve problems through peaceful means.

Since the beginning of the EU process, there was no war in the EU region, especially

between France and Germany. Does this prove that deeper economic integration

prevents war? If that is the case, how to establish the fact that there is a negative

correlation between economic integration and regional conflict? Deeper regional

integration could be proved by data on economic variables such as intra-regional

trade. Nevertheless, as directly related data on conflict with high frequency is not

readily available therefore, what should be a reasonable proxy? As answers to such

important questions are not easily available, therefore, data sufficiency seems to be a

major problem for the intended analysis. Even if we tend to use data on conflict from

other parts of the world, say for example from Africa, then, how to isolate the effect

of regional integration from other factors? This is another big challenge in the present


Other problems

Apart from data sufficiency, size asymmetry is another problems in South Asia. In

Europe, there seems to have a balance of power in the dynamics of region formation.

For instance, Germany and France, the most conflicting states in the history of

Europe, played a balancing role to each other. When these two agreed to work

together, the others followed suit plausibly because of „domino effect‟. In South Asia,

the story is different where India herself is a regional superpower and there is no

counter power to balance the size asymmetry. Now, question is how to deal with this


Supra-nationality vs. sovereignty

As mentioned before, supra nationality in the structure of ECSC was a key success

factor in managing its functioning during the initial years. Now, how to convince the

member states of SAARC to sacrifice some of the sovereignty to make a supra-

national authority on equal basis? How to reconcile the so-called „ego‟ problem from

both the sides? This topic pushes us into a deeper debate over federalism,

functionalism   and    inter-governmentalism.    Question   remains,   given   diverse

socioeconomic, political and religious differences among member states of SAARC,

which one is more suitable for South Asia?

Role of NGOs and CSOs

Recently, some civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-government organizations

(NGOs) have raised their voices to make progress on economic grounds keeping

political differences aside. Due to ever increasing pressure of globalization and

democratization, leaders seems to have been responding to the demand from civil

society. Although not sufficient yet, recently we see some positive moves forward

from both India and Pakistan. However, it is difficult to guess at this moment how far

will it continue, how to strengthen the pressure on governments towards deeper


Chapter layouts

The researcher intends to design his thesis as follows:

     Chapter I: Introduction, Background, Objectives, theoretical framework,

        literature review, methodology and limitations

     Chapter II: EU and SAARC a comparative study. To compare and contrast

        socioeconomic, political and religious climate of the two regions

     Chapter III: Linkage between regional integration and regional conflict

     Chapter IV: Feasibility of EU Model in SAARC: The test of the role T&C in

        SAARC compared to the ECSC in European integration.

     Chapter V: How to accomplish—the operational modality

     Chapter VI: Conclusion

The researcher expects constructive comments on the proposed layout of the chapters

of the thesis.


The EU project was ambitious in nature but could achieve its objectives in various

ways--though not without problems. The SAARC in Asia is also facing similar

problems—although in different settings with different ingredients. The idea is how to

replicate the EU experience elsewhere, as in present study, particularly in the SAARC

region. Textiles and clothing seems to be similar to that of ECSC, but proving that it

will work well to form deeper economic integration, which ultimately solve the long

lasting rivalry between India and Pakistan, is quite challenging. The researcher is

looking forward to have suggestions on how to formulate the research to achieve the



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