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Abstract

This article compares the decision-making structures of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with those of the European Union (EU). It asks whether the EU is an appropriate template for ASEAN or whether, given the apparently unique circumstances of European integration and Southeast Asian regionalism, analogies between the two are counterproductive. Attempts, for example, to model ASEAN's Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) on the EU's Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) throw into relief the latter's uniquely consensual modus operandi. Can this consensus be replicated by ASEAN simply by institutional mimesis? First, the EU's evolution is briefly outlined; second, ASEAN's institutional architecture is set in the context of the ASEAN Charter's innovations that most invite comparison with the EU; and third, the two organizations are compared by assessing a ‘zone of discretion’ between setting ambitious, but realistic, goals for ASEAN's greater integration and adopting structures that might be inappropriate to ASEAN.