In examining current regional integration efforts, a number of findings have become apparent as to the stagnation and lack of functioning regional institutions.
- Stakeholders are deeply pessimistic about the future of CARICOM integration:
they claim that there is a lack of vision and poor leadership within the region, coupled with a lack of implementation of decisions, mistrust, as well as institutional decline and subsequent deficit.
- It should be noted however, that stake holders do view regional integration as crucial to the future development of the Caribbean. It can be summarized that though stakeholders are deeply pessimistic about the current state of Caribbean regional integration, they are no less optimistic about its potential and its necessity.
- it seems as though the most obvious point of lack of regional integration is institutional stagnation in many of the capacities of regional governance. In particular stakeholders pointed to CARICOM.
- Many feel that the optimistic era of Caribbean integration has ended. The obstacles facing the caribbean are no longer simply competing in the global economy, but rather questions of “existential threats”; the fundamental viability of caribbean society.
Dealing with regional issues
It is argued that in dealing with issues of Climate change, transnational crime, the decline of regional industries, food security, governance challenges, international diplomacy etc., well organized regional responses would be most effective. Many proponents of regional integration in the area argue that these issues are becoming more acute every day and that a lack of co-ordinated regional responses could spell the end of caribbean society .
Regional leadership will play a critical role in the fate of regional integration in the Caribbean. While this may lead some to argue that regional integration in the Caribbean is mostly inter-governmental, because the caribbean is made up of mostly small scale economies, non-state actors play a viable role in this leadership allowing for a new-regionalism perspective on integration in the region. It seems as though this understanding is just now being endorsed my heads of government and stake holders as regional integration is no longer simply formal processes; there are increasing integration occurring outside of formal political institutions that if not organized within a broader regional integration scheme, will lead to fragmented and uneven integration efforts unlikely to create political cohesiveness.
Looking forward: critical measures and recommendations
As such here is a list of prescribed critical measures and recommendations for various regional integration actors:
Regional institutions and Political leadership:
The CARICOM secretary general position should be offered to a stable person(s), able to command respect and authority from regional leaders. This person(s) should be empowered so as to reform not only the institutional make up, but main purpose of CARICOM and its regional commitments. Furthermore, CARICOM should be given legal space to implement decisions agreed upon by regional leaders. In attempt to ease questions and tensions between national sovereignty and regional autonomy, CARICOM should establish an embassy in a an area where there is limited to no representation, and pool sovereignty into a well-defined area of policy where regional interests converge. There should also be the establishment of a convention similar to the European Acquis Communautaire. This would allow CARICOM regional legitimacy as a functioning (authoritative) power. Beyond CARICOM, a regional media outlet, upgrading existing regional infrastructure, reducing transaction costs, and reorientation of the University of the West Indies as a regional university would greatly encourage further regional integration.
It is recommended that civil society provide the backbone for this progression towards more unified regional integration. This would be provided more generally through a coherent civil society perspective of regional integration in the caribbean, policy advocacy in tune with this vision, and encouraging bi-partisan consensus of political parties (domestically or otherwise) in the vision of regional integration. As well, civil society can contribute through the collection and co-operation of CSO’s and NGO’s and establishment of civil society fora, enabling communication between domestic, civil, and regional levels.
The private sector should develop economic concentrations of complementary Carribbean industries with overlapping interests, particularly in extra-regional export industries. Stakeholders should develop infrastructure and policy frameworks that reflect the productive capabilities of the various nations in the region, namely communications and transport among larger concerns.