Prof. Gabriele Abels, who is a partner of the research project REGIOPARL, just published a new book on Regional Governance in the EU together with Jan Battke. This interesting book gathers many insightful contributions—some of which directly refer to topics of interest to REGIOPARL. Read more on our impressions and take-aways in this short book review.
The idea of a ‚Europe of the Regions’, as it was discussed in the 1990s, raised high hopes for a strong inclusion of regional actors in the EU government system. Since then, many found themselves disappointed by the lack of institutional reform in favor of the regions. However, besides the unpromising developments, regions are still important actors in the EU multi-level political system. This is where the editors Abels and Pattke embed their most recent publication “Regional Governance in the EU”. They claim to contribute to a new paradigm of a “Europe with the regions”, by providing a interdisciplinary overview on the state of the literature and research on various aspects of regional governance.
The book starts with looking at normative and conceptual perspectives on regions. Simona Piattoni and Carlo Panara both discuss the roles of regional institutions in reducing the democratic deficit of the EU, while Francois-Olivier Seys reviews different processes of delimiting regional boundaries.
The second part of the book takes a look at intra-state dynamics of regionalization. The contributions by Roland Sturm, Mario Kölling and Matteo Nicolini provide insides in the struggle for regional autonomy with two case studies of regional secessionism and reform processes in Spain and Italy. With the books’ third part, the authors take one step back and adopt a macro perspective on regional dynamics in Europe. Franziska Sielker and Dominic Stead, Stefan Gänzle and Thomas Perrin investigate different consequences, dynamics and possibilities for the EU macro-regional strategies.
The last section of the book focuses on political institutions of subnational actors in the context of the EU, and as it is closely connected to our research interests, it is worth a closer look. Peter Bursens suggests a nationalization of European-level parliamentary representation in combination with politicization of national parliamentary discourses on EU affairs as a possible solution for reducing the democratic deficit of the EU’s current institutional setting. Anna-Lena Högenauer takes a look at regional parliaments’ activities under the Early Warning Mechanism on subsidiarity control. Her analysis of submitted reasoned opinions of regional parliaments reveals that not only are regional parliaments fairly inactive when it comes to subsidiarity control, their rate of participation also highly varies. A very small number of regional parliaments account for a majority of submitted reasoned opinions, which shows that regional parliaments are far from being full actors in the EU multi-level governance system.
Finally, Michael Tatham takes a closer look on the executive side of regional governments and considers regions as lobbying actors. While this issue has been subject to substantive studies, he achieves to provide a precise overview on the pressing questions why regions try to lobby the EU in the first place, how they do so and why this phenomenon is of importance for both academics and practitioners.
The book can be understood as an interdisciplinary collection of distinguished contributions, and the individual chapters achieve to provide interesting insights into the issue of regional governance in the EU. After all, the complexity of the EU political system requires such an interdisciplinary approach. Thus, the book is highly recommended to everyone trying to understand the multi-faceted roles that regions nowadays play in the complex political system of Europe.
Abels, Gabriele and Battke, Jan (2019): Regional Governance in the EU. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Extent: 256 pp
Contributors: G. Abels, J.H. Battke, P. Bursens, S. Gänzle, A.-L. Högenauer, M. Kölling, M. Nicolini, C. Panara, T. Perrin, S. Piattoni, F.-O. Seys, F. Sielker, D. Stead, R. Sturm, M. Tatham