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This essay is a contribution to the debate on whether there is something specific about the countries that are taking part in the integration process which began in the immediate postwar years following the signing of the Treaty of Rome. More specifically, it seeks to answer two questions: i) do such countries possess a penchant for integration, and are they substantially different from their ‘travelling companions’ in the process of economic growth and development? ii) is the ongoing process having positive effects? The essay analyses the overseas trade flows of the principal Member States of the European Union, seeking to demonstrate that analogies exist here too to justify the setting up of an economic, monetary and perhaps even political union. The answers to the two questions would appear to be affirmative in that an initial ‘typicality’ has gradually been built upon in the thirty-year period taken into account. European countries display a tendency towards homogeneousness (which, in some cases, goes back a long way), and converge above all in terms of the structure of their commodity trade balances, which sometimes clash sharply with those of the other economies studied in the sample.