Die USA unter Präsident Obama stehen vor globalen Herausforderungen, wie Klimawandel, nukleare Proliferation, Terrorismus, Wirtschafts- und Finanzkrise, Energieversorgung, regionale Konflikte mit globalen Auswirkungen u.a. Die traditionellen transatlantischen Beziehungen, die auf gemeinsamen Werten und wirtschaftlicher Interdependenz beruhen, sind wichtig, reichen aber zur Lösung dieser Probleme nicht mehr aus. Genauso wie die USA muss Europa seine Rolle neu definieren. Es muss sich fragen, welchen Beitrag es in einer globalisierten Welt leisten will und kann. Amerika und Europa sind wichtige Akteure, die Einbeziehung anderer ist notwendig. Auf institutioneller Ebene werden beispielsweise die G-20 immer bedeutender und lösen selbst zunehmend die G-7/8 ab.
"Integration theories usually either implicitly or explicitly assume that regional integration is driven by intraregional economic interdependence, which allows for the utilisation of economies of scale or comparative cost advantages within the region. However, following the new regionalism of the 1990s, it has become clear that regional integration may also be used by the respective member states to improve their standing in the global economy, to become more attractive for foreign direct investment and development aid, or to be more powerful in international trade negotiations. In this paper, we argue that the latter motive is more important for developing countries than the former two, because developing countries are more dependent on economic relationships with other regions than on those with their neighbours. Thus, in order to understand regional integration in the Southern hemisphere, integration theory needs to incorporate interregional relationships and the resulting positive feedback for regional integration projects among developing countries. To support this argument, we present network analyses of intraregional and interregional trade of the European Community (EC), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Association of Southeast-Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Common Market of South America (MERCOSUR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)." (author's abstract)
"Electoral turnout is shown to be higher and less socially skewed in member states of the enlarged European Union than in the United States. The differences in the levels of turnout can partly be related to differences in election procedures, but since the procedural rules provide similar incentives or disincentives to all social groups they cannot explain the much higher inequality of electoral participation in America. There is some evidence to sustain the notion that the higher inclusiveness of the West European welfare state fosters political integration and the equality of electoral participation. In line with this notion differences between Europe and America diminish considerably when the analysis is confined to the pensioner generation whose integration into welfare state schemes is largely similar on both sides of the Atlantic." (author's abstract)