Besides the case of the Regional Integration of Europe, the most successful and complete to the moment, there exist other integration experiences such as:
The ones identified by Mario Midón under the name of “embryonic model”. Such was the case of the African Integration that gave birth to the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC), the South African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), the South African Development Community (SADC), the Preferential Trade Area of Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA), the Economic Community of Western Africa (CEDEAO), and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
In a second place, we can appreciate a “pale integration block” in which the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC), the Association of South Eastern Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the South African Customs Union (SACU) are present.
In a third place we can find the “mild effect integrations”, such as the Andean Community, the Central American Common Market, and the MERCOSUR. Lastly, as the most complete achievement of the regional integration schemes, we can mention the “upper commitment integration” represented by the European Union.
The specific case of the European Union and the importance thereof
The origin of Integration Law lies with the European economic, social, political and cultural integration process, as well as in the institutional structure through which its configuration has been achieved.
The European integration starting point was the Treaty of Paris in 1951, through which the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was created. In 1957 the two Treaties of Rome were signed; the first shaped the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) that promoted the pacific utilization of nuclear energy, while the other treaty –of larger scope- shaped the European Economic Community (EEC).
Over time, the institutional organization of those three Communities became a shared and perfected framework, shaping its Basic Structure: the Commission, as the Community Supranational organ, the Ministers Council, representing the interest of the States pertaining to the Community, the Assembly –afterwards transformed into the European Parliament– that represents the European citizens, and the Court of Justice in charge of interpreting the Union’s Law.
Among the most significant landmarks in the European Integration process are, besides the Treaty of Paris (1951) and the Treaties of Rome (1957), the Brussels Treaty of 1965, the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, the Treaty of Nice of 2001 and the Treaty of Lisbon signed in 2008 and currently in effect.
European Union Law is thus the result of the above-mentioned process, that has become –according to the Court of Justice- an autonomous legal system of its own, integrated with the legal systems of the Member States, structuring a Supranational Organization as a Law Community. Consequently, European Integration Law is a ‘supranational law’ of a ‘co-operative’ nature, that has been constituted as a ‘common law’ of the Member States of the Union, which is applied by their judges through a dialogued cooperation with the Court of Luxemburg, shaped as part of the Members State internal law, but independent from the same, influenced by the law of the State Members, but also influential over the same.
The distinctive characteristics of community law are expressed in its fundamental principles, from which the following stand out: a) those ruling relationships between community law and national rights (competence, subsidiarity, proportionality, collaboration, legal safety and responsibility), and b) those merely intrinsic to community law (immediate application, direct effect, supremacy and concurrent interpretation).
A very interesting aspect about community law lies behind ‘the general common principles’ created by the Luxembourg Court. Such principles are the result of the use of construal methods, as the systematic, theological, concurrent, compared and progressive which have provided Community Law with dialectic dynamics that, according to Von Bogdandy, have created a true “European Legal Space” making up a sort of new ius europaeum.
Finally, with respect to the new European Common Law, it is important to point out that the principles that have ruled the doctrine over the last thirty years have also facilitated teaching and provided a flexible orientation to harmonization. Among the most important initiatives promoted by the academic sector are: the Principles of European Contract Law (Lando Committee), the Study Group on a European Civil Code (Von Bar project), the European Contracts Code (the Gandolfi Project or the Pavia Group) and the Trento Project or Common Core of European Private Law, amongst others. More recently we can mention those that have been translated in the Reference Common Frame applicable to Contractual European Law.
This new common law, besides vindicating room for juridical science, is also contributing to provide a powerful epistemological support to the European Law also serving as an orientation tool and counterweight to legal activity among community institutions. (Text taken from Juan Pablo Pampillo Baliño. La Integración Jurídica Americana Expresión de un Nuevo Derecho Global. Mexico. Porrua 2012).