The first and most important concern of this project was to bring together leading scholars from different disciplines working together on regional integration, the role of the EU and the comparative turn of the study of integration for a joint publication. The consortium succeeded, in the short time of a year, to submit a proposal to the leading Journal of European Integration (Routledge, Taylor & Francis), to get accepted, to divide the writing of different contributions, to organize the discussions on the draft papers, to submit the manuscript, addressing the critiques of the peer-review process and to finalize the final papers so that, in less than a year, 6 articles appeared in the last volume (32(6)) of this journal for 2010. This special issue credits the EC Jean Monnet programme for its financial support.
The special issue addresses the topic of ‘rethinking EU studies: the contribution of comparative regionalism’. The editors of the special issue Alex Warleigh-Lack (Brunel University and UNU-CRIS) and Luk Van Langenhove (UNU-CRIS) wrote a long introductory piece addressing the broad lines of the issue. As the authors mention in their article: the purpose of this special issue is to make a contribution to the debate about the future direction of EU studies by asking what EU scholars might gain from a hitherto under-explored form of comparative work, that of comparison between the EU and other regional organizations and processes. We do not deny that there can be benefits in such work for new regionalism scholars; our focus here, however, is on what we consider to be an important part of the debate on EU studies’ future because it goes to the heart of an understanding of what EU studies is and should be: is it the study of just one, albeit fascinating, set of institutions and processes? Or is it capable of informing, and learning from, a wider set of debates? In particular, how can and should EU studies respond to the growth of regional organizations elsewhere across the globe since the mid-1980s: how watertight is the sui generis claim made by many EU scholars today? Have scholars of regions outside the EU developed approaches or understandings different from those in EU studies which nonetheless have purchase in that field? And can their insights even help retrieve that goal of early EU studies scholars, a generalisable theory of regional integration?