Sub-national Units in Transition: IR Theory and Emerging Actors in a Multi-level Environment
While European integration has gained momentum following the Treaty of Maastricht, a discourse on “Europe of the regions” has come to the fore, with the presumption that the sub-national units become, or are supposed to become, active dynamics of the integration process. However, this dominant discourse seems to take the “actorness” of sub-national units for granted, without questioning their rather passive position in the face of both national and supranational actors. In turn, this passive position gives rise to a reaction – albeit in some cases reluctantly – from the part of sub-national units. As a matter of fact, the research on which the present paper is based suggests that while their involvement in interaction at both national and supra-national levels varies from country to country, and even from one region to another within any given member state, these units tend to “individualise” for certain reasons. Among others, the main factors of individualisation are ever-growing competition and devolution of not only competences, but also public finance burdens which forces the sub-national units to act increasingly in individual terms. The paper aims to share some observations on the transformation of these units, focusing on the case of Italy.
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