Exploring overlapping regionalism

  • Diana Panke
  • Sören Stapel


Overlapping regionalism results from the fact that states are members in multiple regional organisations (ROs) at the same time. This explorative article provides the first comprehensive mapping of overlapping regionalism today and illustrates that it is not only confined to Africa or Asia, but also prevalent in the Americas and Europe. Furthermore, more than 60 ROs that are currently in place have overlaps to one another, but some share more member states and policy competencies than others. Since overlapping regionalism can have negative implications for the effectiveness of individual regional integration projects, due to the possibility or rule and action conflicts, this article not only maps the conflict potential, but also examines why overlapping regionalism varies between RO dyads. It shows that overlapping regionalism can be driven by opportunities and incentives. While there are global pattern, such as the finding that RO dyads have greater overlaps the longer they have coexisted, some regional particularities exist as well.


Africa Americas Asia cooperation Europe overlapping regionalism regional integration regional organisation 



We presented earlier versions of the paper at the ISA conference and at the weekly seminar of the Research College ‘The Transformative Power of Europe?’ at Freie Universität Berlin. We would like to thank the workshop participants and three reviewers for their constructive comments. In particular, we are grateful for comments from Tanja Börzel, Ingo Henneberg, Stefan Lang, Mathis Lohaus, Thomas Risse, and Edward Stoddard. In addition, we would like to thank Elliott Bourgeault for proofreading, and Matthias Büttner, Sabrina Konzok, Markus Sattler, and Gesine Weber for valuable research support.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seminar für Wissenschaftliche PolitikAlbert-Ludwigs-Universität FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.School of Global StudiesUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden

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