The EU and the regions: towards a three-tier system or new modes of regulation?
|Environmental Sciences & Ecology; Environmental Studies; Public Administration
|ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING C-GOVERNMENT AND POLICY
During the last decade, the regions have emerged as `new actors' in European decisionmaking and policy implementation. The new role assumed by regional governments and authorities in the European Union (EU) system has emerged neither by itself nor by global moves towards decentralization, but has been actively triggered by the European Commission. Particularly through its strategy of policymaking in the framework of the Structural Funds, regions and other decentralized actors have been stimulated to play a more active and independent role. For this purpose, the Commission, constrained by a lack of extensive formal powers and competences, has made wide use of informal or underformalized processes and procedures of decisionmaking and policy implementation. These strategies are analyzed with the author's aim of highlighting the most important innovations resulting from the recent reforms of the Structural Funds. The response of the regions to the policy framework set out by the Commission is highlighted through selected examples. On the basis of empirical material, conclusions are drawn with regard to the future development of the EU system as a whole. It is argued that this system will not so much evolve into a fully fledged three-tier system, but rather will be characterized by new modes of regulation which, in the long run, will transform traditional state intervention at all government levels, and by new modes of exercising power which are based on the skillful pooling and sharing of the power resources of many divergent actors, both public and private.
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