Cooperation / Cross-border affairs / EU / International / Regional development

Multi-level governance and legitimacy of local authorities in the European Union

How are regional authorities using their role as international players to build national recognition?

The European Union promoted a wider room for manoeuvre for regional and local authorities, empowering them to be actor of international cooperation, a competence belonging mainly to national state until recently. Almost  30 years after the Single European Act in 1986, subsidiarity is a well established principle. It basically means that decisions (and management of EU funding) should be done at the closest possible level to citizens.

The subsequent changes in many constitutional frameworks of the EU member states, led several regional authorities to start working at international level with different degrees of success. Some of them started to look for an additional level of legitimacy, on issues not recognised by the national government (such as Catalonia, deploying a strategic policy for cultural diplomacy).

The introduction of EGTC, European grouping of territorial cooperation, as a new tool to provide legal personality to cross-border cooperation, enhanced the possibility for local authorities to work it cooperation policy out of the national borders. This cooperation tool is extremely useful to manage geographic areas across borders that actually share geographic specificities and economic dynamics, but they may also be used for other issues closer to the national political agenda.

Are some EU territories, especially regions, “playing by the cushion” as in a pool/billiards game, to send a message to the national government through the cushion of the international cooperation? Can we classify these as lobby actions under the tagline “Nemo propheta in patria”? Are some regions looking for legitimacy abroad over questions that remain unanswered by the national government.

This downloadable PDF paper that I wrote in 2012 is a collection of notes on this theme, a first approximation based on two case-studies: Catalonia in Spain and Kronoberg/Southern Småland in Sweden, respectively involved in the Euroregion Pyrenees Mediterranean and the Euroregion Baltic.

Download the PDF paper:

Multi-level governance and legitimacy – by Boris Meggiorin

Creative Commons License
Multi-level governance and legitimacy by Boris Meggiorin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at

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