If the ASEAN countries were merged into a single country, it would rank among the seven largest in the world, and would thus be a substantial entity on the world market and in global politics. Hence, a more integrated ASEAN economy, as is suggested by the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), would increase the role of ASEAN in the world further. However, the history of, for example, the European Union shows that integration of nations, which over time have developed their own specific political and economic cultures, institutions, and structures of elites, is not without obstacles.