Regional Integration Observer (RIO)

  • Print

In the years 2013-2016, the Regional Integration Observer (RIO) will accompany the ZEI-WAI Research Cooperation as a newsletter. It will report on current events in the framework of the project and in European and West African regional integration.The RIO is currently edited by ZEI Junior Fellows Ilva IflandRike Sohn and by WAI-ZEI Project Coordinator Ablam Benjamin Akoutou.


Letzte RIO Seite 1The second edition of the Regional Integration Observer (RIO) in 2016 is taking stock of the bi-regional project “Sustainable Regional Integration: The European Union and West Africa” between the West Africa Institute (WAI) and the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI). Over the period 2012-2016, the project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and brought together scholars from West Africa and Europe to discuss and analyze determinants of regional integration in West Africa in the fields of politics, economics and institutional capacity development. The RIO summarizes the achievements of the project – e.g. the creation of a Master program in African Regional Integration (MARI) between the WAI and the University of Cabo Verde (UNI-CV), the scholarship component for young West African researchers or the establishment of the WAI Library. Furthermore the RIO gives an outlook on the recently founded African Regional Integration Studies Association (ARISA). This continent-wide association, gathers a community of academics and practitioners, with the objective to advance, capitalize and mutualize the knowledge and capacity of African regional integration.


RIO 2016 miniThe 2016 first edition of the Regional Integration Observer (RIO) is dedicated to addressing current migration crisis in (West) Africa.  Beyond as usual Eurocentric approach and debates, RIO sheds light on the impact of migratory movements on African economies and societies; it examines the relevance of Africa-EU cooperation on migration in Africa. In addition, the edition examines the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa and the EU’s position as a global player as well as the achievements of African Union in the light of ‘Year of Women Empowerment’ in 2015. The last section contains information on the Master programme on African Regional Integration, which is the outcome of a joint cooperation project between University of Cabo Verde (UNI-CV) and West African Institute (WAI), to be hosted by UNI-CV. 

RIO image miniThe third edition of the Regional Integration Observer (RIO) in 2015 is dedicated to the current political challenges in Europe and West Africa. The various articles analyze the consequences of the refugee crisis on the European integration process, Africa´s role in climate negotiations, the elections in Côte d´Ivoire, Guinea Conakry and Burkina Faso and the current situation in Guinea-Bissau. The contributions argue for a stronger Europeanization of migration policy as well as foreign and security policy and come to an ambivalent assessment of the role of ECOWAS during the constitutional crises in Guinea-Bissau and Burkina-Faso. Finally, it is reminded that, in spite of official voices applauding for the presidential elections in Côte d´Ivoire and Guinea, the democratic and transparent organization of elections Africa remains in need of improvement.

WAI ZEI RIO August 2015 S 1The second edition of the Regional Integration Observer (RIO) in 2015 deals with current challenges in the field of peace and security in West Africa. The articles look at the emotional debate about the relationship of different ethnic groups in the peace process in Mali, the role of women in conflict resolution and the meaning of arts as a paradigm for cultural intervention in conflict and peace building processes in modern Africa. A further contribution is dedicated to the successes and deficits of the peace process in Ivory Coast since 2011. Beyond that, in light of current events two voices on the migration complex were integrated in the RIO. The two articles critically analyze the shortcomings of the political establishment in Europea and in Africa in confronting this huge challenge.

WAI ZEI RIO Nr 1 2015 S1The first edition of the Regional Integration Observer (RIO) is dedicated to the political challenges in 2015. In 2015, West Africa faces six presidential or parliamentary elections. One article in the RIO analyzes how the protests in Burkina Faso at the end of 2014 might influence these elections in countries with contested leaders. A second article looks at the role of the regional parliament in the ECOWAS regional integration system. The parliament is to be endowed with new powers as approved by the heads of state and government in 2014. How will this affect its position in the regional political system? Furthermore, contributions deal with the current situation in Mali and the implementation of the ECOWAS customs union beginning in 2015 and its effect on the EU-ECOWAS EPA. From a European perspective, the new Juncker Commission has presented an ambitious working program for 2015. In a short interview, the coordinators of ZEI´s „Future of Europe“ project answer the most pressing questions and inform about the major challenges in 2015.

RIO Vol 2 N3 Bild S 1The third edition of the Regional Integration Observer (RIO) analyzes current developments in West Africa. The first article looks at the role of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the West African integration process. The main question in this context is whether renewables can effectively contribute to the solution of West African energy problems and to the mitigation of climate change effects. Further articles look at the Ebola epidemic and its consequences for the freedom of movement in the sub-region, at the history of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) 20 years after its establishment and at the challenge of increasing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Finally, the last contribution is an assessment of the Africa policy of the Obama administration, in the context of which especially the African side had hoped for change and for a growing engagement.

RIO vol2no2 2014Bild Seite 01The second edition of the Regional Integration Observer (RIO) in 2014 is dedicated to a wide range of topics in the framework of regional integration processes in Africa and Europe. Apart from a report of the 5th Meeting of the Study Groups in the context of the WAI-ZEI cooperation project, another article looks at the results of the elections to the European Parliament and its consequences on the distribution of European top jobs. It evaluates the selection of high-ranking European personnel in terms of democratic legitimacy. Furthermore, contributions analyze the challenges of Ghana´s President John Mahama in his new position as Chairman of ECOWAS in current times of crises and the role of ECOWAS in the fight against Boko Haram and other forms of terrorism in the sub-region. Finally, in a comparative perspective, an author from Mozambique looks at the implementation problems of the SADC Protocol on Trade in Services as part of the Free Trade Area in Southern Africa.

RIO 2014 1The first edition of the „Regional Integration Observer“ in 2014 is dealing with the future of African-EU relations. First of all, looking back to the 4th Meeting of the Study Groups in the framework of the WAI-ZEI Research Cooperation, which took place at the end of March in Avignon, France, further articles analyze in a more detailed way the results of the EU-Africa Summit in Brüssel in April, the negotiations on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and West Africa, the effects of a possible transatlantic free trade deal on third states in Africa and the most recent developments in German Africa Policy. Finally, another contribution critically assesses the relevance of the ECOWAS` institutional reforms for the progress of the West African integration process as a whole. Hence, the RIO provides an overview over current trends in the relationship between the neighboring continents.

RIO Vol3 2013The third edition of the „Regional Integration Observer“ (RIO) provides an overview over the structures and results of the research cooperation between ZEI and the West Africa Institute (WAI). The cooperation project is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In this context, articles report about the WAI-ZEI Mid Term Conference, which took place in October 2013 in Praia, Cape Verde, about the WAI library establishment and about the Monitoring Component of the project. Furthermore, the RIO introduces the project coordination team in Praia and Bonn and gives an outlook on the future of EU-Africa relations. 


ZEI RIO-Vol-1-No-2.-Sept-2013 gAs West Africa is facing the 20th anniversary of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty this year, 20 years of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) in 2014 and 40 years of ECOWAS in 2015, the second edition of the „Regional Integration Observer“ (RIO) in 2013 aims at striking a balance of the regional integration process so far. The edition brings together voices from West African and European academics and from high-ranking civil servants from the ECOWAS Commission and the EU Commission. Articles deal with the achievements, problems and challenges of the West African regional integration process from a legal, economic and security policy perspective. A further contribution analyzes the multiple dimensions of West African-European relations and looks for possible variables to explain bi-regional policy processes. Die institutional voices are dedicated to the record of West African regional integration in the framework of ECOWAS as well as to the future of EU support for regional integration in West Africa. The RIO is closing with an interview with Christophe Joseph Marie Dabiré, the WAEMU Commissioner for the Regional Market, Trade, Competition and Cooperation, where he is asked about the relationship and interaction between WAEMU and ECOWAS, the two most important regional integration organizations in West Africa.

vol1no1 2013-page-001The first edition of the „Regional Integration Observer“ in the context of the research cooperation between ZEI and the West Africa Institute (WAI) between 2012 and 2016 presents the results of the first meeting of study groups that took place in the framework of the project  in October 2012 in Praia, Cape Verde. At this occasion European and West African scholars gathered to discuss economic and political problems in the West African integration process. Further articles deal with EU policy in West Africa from a security policy perspective including the Mali mission, with the consequences of the sovereign debt crisis on European integration as well as with the role of Cape Verde in the regional integration process in West Africa. In the RIO interview, the Chairman of the WAI Board and former foreign minister of Cape Verde, José Brito, finally sketches the challenges of West African regional integration over the next years and explains the role of WAI in this context.