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Institutional affiliation


Countries all over the world are known to join hands and form regional blocks that help them relate well with each other and the rest of the countries. There international organizations are in most cases granted powers to act on behalf of the member states. To apply this delegation policy, the regional organizations follow the principal-agent theory where the governments act as principals and the organization becomes an agent acting on the delegated power to act on behalf of the governments. Examples of organizations that have had delegated powers include ECOWAS and EU. This paper will explore why some countries opt to delegate their policies and political authority while other do not. It will also look into the effects of regionalism.

Delegation of Policies and Political Authority by Governments

One reason why governments opt to delegate their authority can be considered using the concept of political perspective. National governments in this case, try to isolate the political decisions and choices with the redistribution results from the specific domestic interests and moving them to an organization level such as the EU. The governments, therefore, find this delegation an effective source of local power and consolidation of national sovereignty (Börzel, 2011). States with less power tend to adopt the regional organizations and delegate authority to them as it helps them have more bargaining power and legitimacy necessary to help them gain domestic stability, deal with social issues, and strengthen their international standing.

The Neo-functionalist approach argues that the main reason why governments agree to delegate authority is for economic empowerment. Members of a regional block tend to be more open to delegating their policy roles and political power on the economic issue that bear lower salience. More delegation is required once the process becomes ongoing to help maintain and increase their economic advantages. The liberalization of trade has led to higher flow of goods, capital, services and labor. The governments also agree to delegate authority to help reduce the physical border control (Börzel, 2011).

Nations do not agree to delegate authority in the sector of external security. It is identified that issues such as defense and war, currency, and local law and order are not easily delegated as they are believed to be at the core of the states’ sovereignty.

Internal effects of regionalism

Some regional organizations are effective in helping promote democracy in the member nations. ECOWAS has the power to call for military coercion aimed at preventing coup d’états. Through the regional blocks, the governments with relative young democracy can be committed on political liberalization and promotion of democratic behavior by means of external commitment (Börzel, 2011). Membership to a democratic regional organization helps a nation reduce the chances of a democracy breakdown (Nye, 1968).

Studies have indicated that member states to a certain regional group respond differently to diverse policy sector, institution and time. The regionalism has helped stimulate domestic changes and reforms. The rational perspective identifies the internal changes to arise by changing the opportunities platforms for the domestic actors. The domestic actors are controlled by these organizations through cost factor where some options are made more expensive than others (Nye, 1968). The internal effects are then felt where the local governments do not allow the resistance to organization’s requirement or provide incentives for the local actors to explore the opportunities presented by the regional organizations. Through regionalism, domestic actors are prompted to act in a way that helps meet the social expectations in a particular situation. The regional organizations introduce new rules, norms, practices, and structures and the members states are obliged to incorporate into their domestic structures thereby enhancing domestic change (Börzel, 2011).


In conclusion, the governments allow the delegation of policies and political authority to the regional organizations to be able to accrue the economic benefits from trade liberalization that promotes flow of economic goods, capital, and labor. The governments were found reluctant to delegate powers with regard to external defense which was considered the main source of a nation’s sovereignty. The effects of regionalism include the promotion of democracy and managing of social issues.


Börzel, Tanja A. Comparative Regionalism-A New Research Agenda. No. p0028. Free University Berlin, 2011. Working Paper 

Nye, Joseph S. “Comparative regional integration: Concept and measurement.” International organization 22.04 (1968): 855-880.

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