European Territorial Co-Operation between Local Government Authorities: Current Practices and Future Perspectives in the View of the EU Institutions and Bodies
Aim: The aim of the present contribution is to evaluate a potential added value of European Territorial Co-operation (ETC) between local government authorities on the European integration process, notably in terms of polycentric development and governance in Europe. Design / Research methods: The authors look into ETC (both at regional and local level, commonly referred to as EU regional cooperation) from the perspective of the EU institutions and bodies. Through the prism of ETC the authors analyse the status of regional and local authorities in the EU law, in particular in terms of the legal and institutional basis for such cooperation and the involvement of the said sub-national authorities in the EU decision-making process. Conclusions / findings: Even though regional participation in EU decision-making is by and large limited to areas which directly concern sub-national authorities, the European Commission and the European Parliament seem to have gained reasonable awareness of the indispensable role that the "third", regional level of governance has to play in the economic and political integration process. Such a new pattern of governance in the EU, stretching not only above, but also below the level of the nation state (Jeffery 1997: 2, cf. also Finck 2017) is not only a conditio sine qua non of a truly multi-level governance, but also potentially presents a real added value in terms of overhauling opportune interests of national politics running counter the interests of local communities. Originality / value of the article: In literature the dominant trend is to present the bi-centric relationship between the Union and its Member States. This paper attempts to shed some light on a less evident, albeit arguably growing in importance relationship between the EU and a sub-national (local government) authority. The authors point to the role of EU institutions in taking account of legitimate concerns of European regions by way of creating legal and institutional framework to, if not fully overcome, then at least mitigate the obstacles to regional interoperability. (original abstract)
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