Regional integration in east Africa, its challenges and lessons from the European union integration

Regional integration is common place in the contemporary world in which a group of States deliberately come together to pursue a common purpose. Interest in regionalism is both a response to and as a consequence of emerging trends in the global political and economic order1. Hans Van Ginkel defines regional integration as the process by which States within a particular region increase the level of interaction with regard to economic, security, political, social and cultural issues.2 It is a shift of certain national activities towards a new centre. It is the process by which political actors in distinct national settings are persuaded to shift their loyalties, expectations towards a new centre whose institutions possess or demand jurisdiction over pre-existing nation-states3. It entails the coming together of two or more states, normally through reciprocal preferential agreements. Regional integration usually happens in five stages which shall be discussed in this study. Basically it begins with the removal of trade restrictions, through establishment of a Common Market and ends in the formation of a Political Union. This study will analyze the course regional integration in East Africa has taken, its achievements so far and the challenges that hinder the full realization of its objectives which include the formation of a political union. The study will delve into the European Union given that it is the most successful example of regional integration and is credited with inspiring integration in other regions of the World and seeks to determine lessons that the EAC can draw from the EU so as to make good its quest to integrate successfully.