Lecture and discussion Brexit, Regional Integrations and ASEAN

6pm / Tuesday 20th September

On 20th september, The French Institute of Hanoi – L’Espace and the Hanoi Centre of the Ecole française d’Extrême Orient had organized a lecture and discussion by David Camroux, Senior Resident Associate at Sciences Po, Paris and Professorial Fellow at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (VNU), Hanoi. The main subject is « Brexit, Regional Integrations and ASEAN ».

Brexit, the decision by British (or more specifically English and Welsh) voters for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union during a referendum held on 23rd June last, is usually characterized as a “divorce”. To draw on this analogy, today Britain is no longer sharing the master bedroom, but is in the spare room still living in the house that it no longer considers its home. While the new post-referendum British government determines its objectives and the terms of the ‘divorce’, in the meantime its 27 partners have, metaphorically, began drawing up plans for home renovation.

Here in lies the fundamental misconception that lies at the heart of the Brexit vote : the 52% of British voters who chose to leave seemed to have thought they were voting for a unilateral act whereas, in fact, they had voted for a process. This process in legal terms will not even formally begin till the British government invokes Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, in January or February 2017 at the earliest. At a minimum the process will require two years and, perhaps, up to ten till the terms of the “divorce” are finally settled.

In his presentation David Camroux will, firstly, analyze the immediate and proximate causes of the referendum vote. A bare three months after the referendum it is still far too early to examine the long-term consequences of Brexit. However it is possible to sketch out various scenarios depending on whether the British government opts – and it is often forgotten, the other 27 EU member states accept – a “hard Brexit” or a “soft Brexit” or some middling position between these two. To use the vacuous term of the new British PM, Teresa May, what does “Brexit means Brexit” really mean?

Seen from Hanoi, and looking away from Europe to the wider global stage, the referendum vote has the salutary effect of drawing attention to the numerous challenges facing trans-national regional integration in other parts of the world. Taking a comparative approach, in the second part of his lecture David Camroux will suggest some of these challenges, such as developing a supra-regional identity that is compatible with, and complementary to, nationalist aspirations. The place of trans-national supra regional integration in providing the political space for ‘”micro-regionalism” (i.e within individual regional “club” members) will also be raised as, indeed, will be that of appropriate degrees of institutionalization. Moreover, the important role of an external adversary as a unifier for regional integration will be broached.  Finally, if regional integrations can be seen as providing a defense against the effects of globalization what happens when, in a context of rising populisms and heightened xenophobia, regionalization is perceived as merely an avatar of globalization?

Drawing on these preliminary lessons in the final third section of his presentation David Camroux will make some somewhat tentative suggestions on their implications for ASEAN’s own integration trajectory.

The Speaker

Dr David Camroux is Resident Senior Associate within the Centre de Recherches Internationales (CERI). At Sciences Po he is also an Honorary Associate Professor at the Institut d’Études Politiques (IEP) in Paris where he has taught on contemporary Southeast Asian society, EU-Asian relations and Asian regional integration. In February 2016 he was appointed as Professorial Fellow at the Vietnam National University (USSH, Hanoi), and began teaching in September.

He has been a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, the Central European University, Gadjah Mada University, Waseda University, the University of Yangon and Korea University. Working in an interdisciplinary way at the interface between Comparative Politics and International Relations, he is the author of numerous articles on Southeast Asian politics and history, the international relations of the Asia-Pacific and EU-Asia relations. He is at present completing a monograph co-authored with Don Pathan entitled Islamic Insurrection, Identity, Irredentism: Thailand’s Deep South. He is also undertaking a comparative study of the TPP and TTIP with Chad Damro (University of Edinburgh)

David Camroux graduated from the University of Sydney (BA Hons) and read for his doctorate at the Sorbonne nouvelle (Paris III). He is the co-editor of The Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs. He is a regular commentator on Southeast Asian and Pacific affairs for French media. Outside of academia, he is a member of the Asia-Pacific Committee advising the International Secretariat of the governing party in France.