The Observatory on Regionalisation is a network of some 40 experts, from Academy and research centres throughout Europe, passionate about the state of regions in their respective countries, independent from the AER and contributing on a voluntary basis to publish this comprehensive study and overview of the State of Regions in Europe.
After publishing the individual country reports, the AER experts are now faced with the challenge of drawing conclusions and an overall analysis of the situation in Europe.
Enrico Martial former Director of the Italian Conference of Presidents of Regional Assemblies, and former Secretary General of the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE) presented the first trends and challenges identified by the experts at the AER General Assembly on 1 December 2015 in Brussels.
Trend 1: Regionalisation as a “European reform”
For many member States of the last accession phase, for the three States which signed an association agreement in 2014 and for candidate states, “regionalisation” is understood as a way to strengthen it’s European dimension or even as compulsory reform. Some states succeed in this process like Poland, others are on the way, like Ukraine but some of them should face internal challenges and resistances, on centralisation and minority specialities.
Trend 2: An ideal model for federalism?
Germany and Austria have developed highly effective models in their respective countries and these are often perceived as being ideal. But not only are these two models different from one another, they also cannot be applied blindly to other countries. Specificities and minorities need to be taken into account for each country in order for the model to be effective.
Trend 3: “A step back and a step forward”
Reforms towards more and less decentralisation are happening simultaneously across Europe. France is moving towards a merging of regions with a risk of losing local identity and moving away from citizens. Italy on the other hand is removing a level of governance (the provinces) and transferring all concurrent responsibilities back to the central government thus resulting in more centralization. On the other hand, in both cases we can see more regionalisation: Italy is setting up a Senate of the regions, France will give more responsibilities to regions in economic development.
Trend 4: When independence knocks on the door
Catalunya and Scotland are the most recent and active examples of regions trying to gain their independence. Others have taken a step back in their efforts, such as Flanders and Basque Country, and there are some claims for independence in other European countries. The search for independence is quite different today than it was historically because of the presence of the EU regulating many policies and the juridical framework. Namely, becoming independent would require these regions to follow the full accession process before integrating the EU.
Trend 5: when Regionalisation is “business-as-usual”.
In some countries, reforms and progress are taking place without making the headlines, such as in Denmark and The Netherlands. Many good practices in participation, transparency and effectiveness are available and should be shared through the AER.
- The process of regionalization is still on the move in Europe, both with centralization and decentralisation effects
- Regional democracy as political background, improving the participation of people and citizens on decision making process and control
- Better economic development with fair and good Regions: a path in the reforms in many Countries, in the whole Europe, from Poland and Romania to Italy and France
The Romanian Television assisted to the presentation and interviewed Enrico Martial and Gratian Mihailescu about the state of regionalisation in Europe, and Romania (report in Romanian, interview in English)