A research note in progress: The Concept of National integration – forgotten but highly relevant
In order to understand the ever-changing process of European integration we need to reconsider and revise our basic concepts currently. If we go to the field of the economics of economic integration I see a need for re-introducing a forgotten concept – national integration – in order to cope with the complexities of the current integration process.
Within the so-called economics of integration the process of integration has basically been understood as international integration – that is integration between more or less separate national markets. In his seminal work Balassa (1961) attempted to make a precise definition of the concept of economic integration and he could literarily ‘see’ that the main barriers to integration were currently established or already worked between states – what he called discrimination or ‘artificial’ barriers to trade (as well as to labour, services and capital). These barriers could take the form of tariffs or physical restrictions to trade.
In order to make a precise definition of the concept of integration Balassa did choose to disregard from processes of national integration (when the national market is fragmented into local and/or regional markets). He acknowledged that less developed countries might have large problems with disintegrated national markets (due to ‘non-economic barriers between communities, races,...