Understanding differences in the governance of macro-regional cooperation

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Since 2009, the gradual establishment of four so-called EU macro-regions has signaled a more comprehensive macro-regional strategy at the EU level. Up until now, such macro-regions have been established in four European areas: the Baltic Sea (2009), the Danube river (2010), the Adriatic and Ionian Seas (2014) and the Alpine mountains (2015). Since they have only been in place for about 2 to 7 years, macro-regions can still be considered a very recent phenomenon. Hence a systematic empirical overview of them is still in a primary stage (e.g. EC, 2016a). When EU macro-regions were first launched, they were defined as areas ‘covering a number of administrative regions but with sufficient issues in common to justify a single strategic approach’ (EC, 2009: 5). From this definition, two elements are apparent. Firstly, EU macro-regions are composed of a number of smaller (regions or municipalities) or larger (nation-states) territorial entities each of them addressing their respective desires. Secondly, EU macro-regions correspond to areas with common issues, which may be geographical or sectoral in nature. These issues need a strategic approach in order to be addressed. Such an approach demands ‘integrated frameworks [which help] to identify needs and allocate available resources’, the so-called EU macro-regional strategies (Samecki, 2009: 1). Based on these two elements, it is fair to conclude that EU macro-regions encompass both a territorial and a functional dimension. Therefore, I argue that macro-regions are hybrid forms of organization balancing between these two dimensions.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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