A supranational union, sometimes also called a supranational state, is a group of countries that has:
In other words, it is a hybrid or transitional institution. Some decisions need the member states' consensus (intergovernmentalism) and others need only a majority, either of the member states or of elected representatives (supranationalism).
The process leading to such groups
The trend to globalization
makes national isolation less and less possible.
- Political / military alliances / coalitions / leagues / blocs, are either things of the past or, in modern days, may lack stability, clear inner decision process, and international legitimity.
- International organizations, that started to flourish in the 20th century, are one step as being bodies helping cooperation between states, but they depend mostly on the goodwill of the nation-states that they comprise.
- Also the trend to create trade blocs, leading to common markets, (NAFTA, MERCOSUR), or one step further, to economic unions like (CARICOM), is growing.
But some countries, in a given world region, like a continent or subcontinent, feel the need for more integration, without adopting immediately all the institutions of a federal nation. Whence their idea to become united into supranational entities.
An institutional model: the European Union
This kind of organization has many of the traits of a sovereign country. It aims at unifying various parts of the legal base, building common institutions, and being recognized by outside countries and organisations.
More practically, the European Union is the project that went further in this direction. It is still the sole member of its class, but its organization is studied by other would-be country groups as a basis for their own projects (see SACN for example). A practical description of this reference model includes such institutional traits as:
- A body of "Commissioners", with a President, to prepare laws and regulation for the whole area. Some of the commissioners have negotiation powers with international organizations (the WTO for example) or countries, and some sanction power about adherence to common rules.
- A system of first decision on those proposed legislations assigned to the Council of Ministers, made up of ministers from all member states.
- A final voting system by a citizen-elected Parliament.
- Integration of legislation into the legal systems of the member states as the treaties of the Union commit them to.
- A common passport format.
- A common currency for all or part of the union.
- Its own budget to fund common programmes such as the European Union's programmes in agriculture, research and education.
- A common fund for trans-country infrastructure projects and for regional development.
Current supranational unions that are also continental unions
Supranational unions that are not continental unions
to be completed