Panel 911: Sub-national Engagement with the EU
With or without you: Mobilization Strategies of Portuguese Regional Authorities in the European Union
1Universidade do Minho, Portugal; 2University of Berlin, Germany
A sizable body of literature has investigated the activity of regional authorities in attempting to circumvent central governments in the European Union (EU). Located at the intersection between research on multi-level governance and Europeanization, and building on the conceptual division between ‘financial’ and ‘regulatory’ mobilization, the aim of this article is to identify the domestic mediating factors which condition the channels and rationales underpinning Portuguese regional strategies in the EU. This article shows that structures, agency and contextual factors are the most relevant mediating factors explaining the decision of the Autonomous Regions of Azores and Madeira to combine intra- and extra-state strategies geared towards ‘regulatory’ purposes, whereas the five deconcentrated Regional Coordination and Development Commissions (CCDRs) in mainland Portugal have confined themselves to an extra-state strategy tailored to ‘financial’ purposes. We conclude that despite the presence of national bypassing in both cases, the regions have not challenged Portuguese state authority.
EU Trade Policy, Federalism and Joint Decision-Making: Comparing Belgium and German Subnational Mobilization
1University of Minho - EEG, Portugal; 2American University - SIS, USA
In developing an extensive network of free trade agreements, the European Union has pushed for liberalization commitments that impinge on the competencies of subnational jurisdictions. This raises new challenges in federal systems as the emerging multilevel character of trade politics means subnational authorities could increasingly demand a say in the negotiation or ratification of ‘second generation’ trade agreements. In order to address the tension between subnational regulatory autonomy and collective problem solving in trade negotiations, Europe needs to avoid suboptimal outcomes where actions of subnational jurisdictions can undermine or veto collective agreement. Using the cases of Belgium and Germany, the article illustrates how the growing subnational contestation around trade agreements requires greater coordination and consensus to avoid domestic gridlock. The article suggests measures to address joint-decision traps and overlapping authority across multilevel governance given the increasing polarization of trade politics, including framing of trade narratives, addressing asymmetries of influence, enhancing subnational engagement, and mitigating the distributive and material costs of liberalization.
Role and Value of Sub-national Entities in and for the European Integration Process: The Italian Experience
Institute for the Study of Regionalism, Federalism and Self Government (ISSiRFA)
Regions and Local governments play a very important role in the application of European law and in the implementation of European policies. Over time, National Constitutions, European Treaties and Charters have given more attention to sub national entities, thus passing from “Landesblindheit” (Ipsen) to a process of increasing involvement (through principles of subsidiarity, mechanisms of participation, EU regional policy). However, despite this evolution, European multilevel governance has always been perceived as a top down decision system.
Economic crisis has accentuated the territorial and social differentiation and highlighted the negative effects of globalization, bringing out, in the last electoral results, the resentment of peripheral and marginal communities. In this scenario, a strong request of involvement, participation, and sometimes autonomy (i.e. Catalonia), has emerged from territories. In Italy, for example, recently some Northern Regions have started the process of differentiated and asymmetrical Regionalism (through the mechanism provided in Art. 116 Const. c. 3) that represents the driver of new regionalism. In these cases, for example, preliminary agreements between State and Regions define commitments aimed at strengthening the role of Regions in international relations and with the European Union.
These facts raise the need to revalue the role of subnational entities, as institution nearest to citizens, in the EU integration process. EU has started to deal with this request by opening a debate on it with a 'Task force on subsidiarity, proportionality and doing less more efficiently' and several meetings throughout 2018 and 2019).
The paper focuses on the role of regional differentiation in the European integration process by presenting the Italian experience, specifically the role played by Regions in two case studies: social care policy and economic policy. The aim is not only to identify what is the optimal territorial dimension for regulating some sectors in the EU multilevel governance system, but to understand if regional differentiation still represents a fundamental value for the European integration process, considering the challenges described above. The analysis would help to catch the repercussion on democracy, since it involve the participation of levels of government in those decisions that have a major impact on citizens’ lives.