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European Community

Regionalism and diffusion revisited :

from final design towards stages of decision-making
British International Studies Association
Volume, number, page: 
42 : 4, pp.773-797
An emerging research programme on diffusion across regional international organisations (RIOs) proposes that decisions taken in one RIO affect decision-making in other RIOs. This work has provided a welcome corrective to endogenously-focused accounts of RIOs. Nevertheless, by focusing on the final design of policies and institutional arrangements, it has been conceptually overly narrow. This has led to a truncated understanding of diffusion’s impact and to an unjustified view of convergence as its primary outcome. Drawing on public policy and sociological research, we offer a conceptual framework that seeks to remedy these weaknesses by disaggregating the decision-making process on the ‘receiving’ side. We suggest that policies and institutional arrangements in RIOs result from three decision-making stages: problematisation (identification of something as a political problem), framing (categorisation of the problem and possible solutions), and scripting (design of final solutions). Diffusion can affect any combination of these stages. Consequently, its effects are more varied and potentially extensive than is currently recognised, and convergence and persistent variation in scripting are both possible outcomes. We illustrate our framework by re-evaluating research on dispute settlement institutions in the EEC, NAFTA, and SADC. We conclude by discussing its theoretical implications and the conditions that likely promote diffusion.

First EU-Mexico civil society dialogue forum, Brussels 26 November 2002. Bridging civil society in Europe and Mexico: a new step in EU-Mexican relations

European Commission
Considered Countries: 
As the European Union and Mexico signed an ambitious agreement (1) (global agreement) in 2000, a growing
concern in both the EU and Mexico was the importance of involving civil society in the ongoing dialogue to
support ‘participative’ democracy. Taking into account the concerns of many civil society groups on both
sides of the Atlantic, the EU and Mexico agreed to a forum in 2002 that would bring together representatives
from the Mexican government, the European Commission and European and Mexican civil society.
As civil society dialogue is not explicitly foreseen in the global agreement, the event signified a unique
opportunity for civil society to outline conclusions and constructive proposals that allow for the strengthening
of relations between the EU and Mexico with the full participation of societies at large. It was also an
opportunity for the EU and Mexico to underline their mutual support for engagement in dialogue with civil
This publication is intended to:
• provide the background to the event;
• set out a summary of the different opinions expressed at the forum itself in order to act as a point of
reference for the future development of bilateral relations and civil society’s participation within them.


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