Regionalism in Europe

Description of Regionalism

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes regionalism in the following terms: [1] Regionalism is a significant element in Belgian, German, Italian and Spanish political administration; in the UK it relates specifically to the Celtic fringe; and it is of lesser importance in the more unitary states of France, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Scandinavia. These differences stem from ethnic, religious or political features of the past, with consequences varying in extremity from the terrorism of ETA in Spain and the IRA in Northern Ireland to the virtual partition of Belgium and the ordered federalism of Germany. At its mildest, regionalismis merely folkloric, or an occasion to attract structural funds from the Eu (see more in this European encyclopedia). At its strongest it represents an alternative to the nation state (see more in this European encyclopedia). The Basque country, Catalonia, Scotland, Flanders, Ulster, Bavaria and Italy’s Northern League all present different aspects of the regional phenomenon.

The influence of Germany in European affairs has led to a presumption in favour of the German style of government as a constitutional model for the EU, with a multiplicity of regional governments and bureaucracies taking responsibility for administration in such areas as education, health, ‘spatial planning’ (that is, land use, transport and the environment) and much of the rest of the spending budget. Justice, monetary policy, defence and foreign policy are left to the federal centre (see more in this European encyclopedia). This model is well suited to the Commission’s ambition to transfer power from national parliaments upwards to the supranational bodies of the EU and downwards to 111 regional bodies, many of which are artificial constructs with little, if any, grounding in traditional loyalties. (It has, for example, been remarked that the Commission’s regional map nowhere contains the name ‘England’.)

European regionalism finds its main institutional outlets in the Committee of the Regions, a consultative quango established by the Maastricht Treaty, and the European Regional Development Fund, set up on a small scale in 1975 but subsequently boosted. There are also various bodies attached to the EU which occupy themselves with regional, municipal or local government agendas oriented either to the solicitation of subsidies or to propaganda. For instance, town twinning is arranged by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions; and the promotion of regionalism and federalism is the mission of the Assembly of European Regions.

Regional Tribunals and Courts

For information on Regional court decisions:


Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

See Also

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