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The Nature of the Interactions between Local Authorities and the EU. A Case Study from the North East of England

INTRODUCTION: THE NATURE OF THE INTERACTION BETWEEN LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND THE EUROPEAN UNION

A large number of papers published in the past ten years have been host to a fierce debate concerning the appearance in Europe of new forms of governance. It is a wide-ranging debate which has two main dimensions. One is not particularly new, as it revolves around the supranational nature of the European Union (EU). The other, also not completely original, gained momentum in the early 1990s, partly as a result of the Commission-fostered rhetoric on the Europe of the Regions. A virtuous circle seemed to have been established. EU policies were stimulating increasing mobilisation of sub-national actors in the European arena. In turn, empowered sub-national authorities were interacting with national and supranational actors, regardless of traditional national boundaries.

Since then, the ‘regional wave’ has lost part of its impetus. Yet, the debate is still alive and alternative interpretations of the role of sub-national actors in the EU decision-making process have been proposed. Unlike in the aged dispute between intergovernmentalists and neofunctionalists however, here the positions are not clear cut because the phenomenon is also not straightforward.

This paper looks at the lower end of the governance scale in Europe. It analyses the extent to which sub-national actors have become participants in the decision-making process within the European arena. The paper is divided into three parts.

The first section contains a critical review of what are, arguably, the two most influential attempts to account for the phenomenon described above. It presents a discussion of liberal intergovernmentalism (LI) and multi-level governance theory (MLG) and underlines the strengths and weakness of each. The comparison will show that LI carries much more explanatory power than MLG. Its starting point, namely a liberal approach to domestic preferences formation and an intergovernmentalist theory of international negotiations, allows it to offers a sound and convincing account of how the EU polity works, even in the light of supposed developments in terms of sub-national mobilisation.

Yet, liberal intergovernmentalism is not completely foolproof. Above all, it fails to fully grasp the complexity, both in terms of actors and dynamics, of the process that leads to the formation of domestic preferences. Arguably, this is where MLG has an edge over LI. Thus, it is perhaps not too daring to attempt to combine the two. This is what the second chapter sets out to do. Its first section challenges the widespread practice of presenting multi-level governance and liberal intergovernmentalism as mutually exclusive theories and highlights how the two can complement each other. Subsequently it tests this theoretical assumption by looking at the effect of EU regional policy on the mobilisation of sub-national actors in Britain. A clarification is required on this point, as students of multi-level governance often confuse two distinct phenomena. The mobilisation of local and regional governments is different from the mobilisation of non-governmental or quasi-governmental actors. As this second chapter shows, the latter could be even detrimental to the former.

The final chapter presents the results of a case study on local authorities in the North East of England. Again, the focus is on EU structural funds (SF). Firstly, the chapter looks at how involved local authorities are in the management of structural funds. Particular emphasis is placed on the distinction between programme drafting and implementation stages. In the light of the conclusions reached, it then proceeds to evaluate whether, and how, years of involvement in EU-funded initiatives have empowered sub-national authorities in the North East. The way they lobby in Brussels is also analysed, as it can provide evidence of effective sub-national mobilisation.

The case study on the North East is not intended to necessarily provide material for European- or country-wide generalisations. Rather, its purpose is to shed some light on the nature of the mobilisation of sub-national authorities in an area that has been largely ignored so far. Ultimately, the case study allows for a further testing of the theoretical hypothesis, laid out at the beginning, concerning the complementary nature of liberal intergovernmentalism and multi-level governance theory.

Mostra/Nascondi contenuto.
6 INTRODUCTION: THE NATURE OF THE INTERACTION BETWEEN LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND THE EUROPEAN UNION A large number of papers published in the past ten years have been host to a fierce debate concerning the appearance in Europe of new forms of governance. It is a wide- ranging debate which has two main dimensions. One is not particularly new, as it revolves around the supranational nature of the European Union (EU). The other, also not completely original, gained momentum in the early 1990s, partly as a result of the Commission-fostered rhetoric on the Europe of the Regions. A virtuous circle seemed to have been established. EU policies were stimulating increasing mobilisation of sub- national actors in the European arena. In turn, empowered sub-national authorities were interacting with national and supranational actors, regardless of traditional national boundaries. Since then, the ‘regional wave’ has lost part of its impetus. Yet, the debate is still alive and alternative interpretations of the role of sub-national actors in the EU decision-making process have been proposed. Unlike in the aged dispute between intergovernmentalists and neofunctionalists however, here the positions are not clear cut because the phenomenon is also not straightforward. This paper looks at the lower end of the governance scale in Europe. It analyses the extent to which sub-national actors have become participants in the decision-making process within the European arena. The paper is divided into three parts. The first section contains a critical review of what are, arguably, the two most influential attempts to account for the phenomenon described above. It presents a discussion of liberal intergovernmentalism (LI) and multi-level governance theory (MLG) and underlines the strengths and weakness of each. The comparison will show that LI carries much more explanatory power than MLG. Its starting point, namely a liberal approach to domestic preferences formation and an intergovernmentalist theory of international negotiations, allows it to offers a sound and convincing account of how the EU polity works, even in the light of supposed developments in terms of sub- national mobilisation.

Tesi di Master

Autore: Andrea Chilese Contatta »

Composta da 64 pagine.

 

Questa tesi ha raggiunto 411 click dal 20/03/2004.

 

Consultata integralmente 2 volte.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.