Gabriele Abels and Jan Battke
The European Union is perceived to be a ‘multilevel’ system. If ‘multi’ is to be more than two, logically, we have to consider a third level: the subnational or regional level. This level has received some attention since the 1980s, when ‘Europe of the regions’ became a promise that was soon to disappoint. This chapter outlines the debate as well as the dynamics of regional governance in the EU. It calls for a modest model of ‘Europe with the regions’. It illustrates that region and regionalisation are polysemic terms; the dynamics of territorial politics is not limited to the state (in the form of intra-state decentralisation), but also transcends national boundaries, e.g. in the form of macro-regions. Key issues are the nexus between democratisation and regionalisation in the EU and how regions can contribute to democratic legitimacy.
Jan Battke and Gabriele Abels
This book takes stock of an emerging multilevel ‘Europe with the regions’, taking into account normative, theoretical and empirical dimensions of the ‘new regionalism’. Today, it is broadly acknowledged that the regional level has to be taken into account in addition to the national and supranational levels of European governance - especially with regard to the democratic quality of the latter. No one, neither scholar nor practitioner, should stay ‘federal blind’. Europe’s regions, understood as ‘soft spaces’, are here to stay and increasingly act across the EU’s multilevel structure, often jointly, with the goal of increasing their problem-solving capacities and shaping policies. Against this background of recent and multifaceted real-world developments and the intense debate on ‘The Future of Europe’ we propose a ‘more modest’ yet multidisciplinary notion termed ‘Europe with the regions’, which helps to adequately capture both the flexibility in today’s territorial politics in Europe and the ambiguity involved.