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Edited by Henrik Enderlein, Sonja Wälti and Michael Zürn
16 Regions and the European Union Michael W. Bauer and Tanja A. Börzel 16.1 INTRODUCTION Multi-level governance emerged within the context of European studies as an alternative approach to state-centric models of European integration (Hooghe and Marks 2001; Bache and Flinders 2004). Not surprisingly, the starting point for the concept was European Union (EU) structural policy, where in 1988 a reform of the structural funds had given the regions a real voice in EU policy-making for the first time (Marks 1993; Hooghe 1996). But has the EU really sidelined the nation states by mobilizing the regions? Are new relations between the supranational and subnational levels really the harbinger of the nation state’s decline as political authority increasingly shifts upward to the EU (Börzel 2005) and downward to the subnational plane (Marks et al. 2008)? Or are the regions merely ‘actors in an intergovernmental play’ (Pollack 1995; Bache 1999), whose activities at European level reinforce rather than transform intrastate politics? There is no doubt that the relationship between the EU and the (sub-state) regions of its members has been a bone of contention in political science debate. In this discussion, the ‘region’ has proven to be a somewhat vague concept that somehow encompasses the entire political space found below central state governments and above local authorities (Marks et al. 2008). In the absence of a consensual definition, ‘region’ is often used synonymously with ‘subnational authorities’, or the ‘third’ or ‘intermediate’ level of governance (Jeffery 1997). At a minimum, a...
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