Decision-making in the European Union (EU) is often described as a system and process of multi-level governance. In other words, it requires actors from many levels to play a part in decision-making. Indeed, the EU is one of the main arenas in which what scholars call ‘paradiplomacy’ – diplomacy and international relations carried out by actors from regional and local levels – can be discerned. When a state becomes a member of the EU, then, the demarcation between domestic politics and foreign policy can become somewhat blurred. Exactly how blurred depends on the degree to which a given policy has been ‘Europeanised’. This changes over time, as the member states alter the balance of power by agreeing new EU treaties.
There are various divisions of competences between the EU and its member states; the EU can have exclusive competence, it can be shared with the member states, or the EU have a supporting competence to the member state, depending on what the member states have agreed to set out in the EU Treaties. Whatever the balance struck between EU and national levels, each member state has through its membership, transferred formal policy-making powers to the European Union and its decision-making institutions (the European Commission proposes legislation and the European Parliament and Council of European Union take the legislative decisions) and the advisory institutions (European Committee of the Regions and European Economic and Social Committee). Consequently, a further layer is added to the political system of each member state, and the lines between domestic and international policy and politics are blurred: what once was domestic policy, for example, health policy or transport policy, is now part of a supranational multi-level governance system, and actors at all levels needs to be both active and participating to ensure their interests are met. A further example of how the EU contributes to this blurring between domestic and international politics is its regional policy with the inclusion of partnership principle in the structural funds and the active involvement of regional actors in, for example, the INTERREG Programmes.
This has created both opportunities and challenges for domestic actors; on the one hand sub- national actors have found a potential way to by-pass the national level in politics and have used this in order to put pressure on ‘their’ national level; however, on the other hand, it has also meant that sub-national actors have had to become (more) active on the international arena, which requires extra resources and skills.
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Dr. Malin S. McCallion is a reader in Political Science at the university of Karlstadt in Sweden. Her research interests cover the regional level in society – what role it has and how this role is changing, especially processes of Europeanisation, Multi-level Governance and Sub-state Diplomacy/Paradiplomacy.
To read the entire article on think EU Budget Post 2020 check out the 2017 Report.
The Report on the state of Regionalisation in Europe.
More than 40 experts contributed to this work, by delivering detailed reports about the state of regionalisation and multilevel governance in chosen European countries. The study covers 41 countries, and each country report is based on a similar structure, thereby allowing a comparative approach among all studied countries.
- The first part of the report gives the political impetus from the main European stakeholders
- The second part of this report entails a summarised version of the country reports. The objective is to provide interested readers with a short overview of the main features of regionalisation in various European countries. The complete versions of the country reports are available on the AER website, under LINK
- The third part provides a thematic approach based on the main findings delivered by the country reports and the current state of regionalisation in Europe. The trends and outlooks lead to open questions on the future of the regions in the European landscape, and more broadly on the role of subnational authorities in the shaping of the continent.
- The fourth part gives the floor to the actual regional decision-makers in Europe, across a series of interviews and statements by Presidents, Vice-Presidents and elected representatives of the European regions.
Over the next months, we will be focusing on a different European country’s approach to regionalisation. During these months, look out for #RoR2017 on Twitter and/or Facebook and follow us at @europeanregions.
Strong European regions are a pathway to a stronger Europe.