Abstract and Keywords
Analysis of the ‘regional dimension’ of the EU has long since noted how the European integration process reframes the space for political action that regions can access. Clearly, integration has expanded the coalitional possibilities of sub-national and national actors beyond the nation state, allowing both national and sub-national actors to be outflanked. What remains less clear, however, is whether the conditions under which European integration, understood here as a new space for political action, provide an opportunity for regional governance actors, or a threat? This article seeks to unpack what is broadly understood as ‘the regional dimension’ of EU politics, by considering these varying strategies and understandings of Europe as an opportunity space for autonomous political action or as a threat to independent political capacities, as provided for by domestic constitutional and legal arrangements. The picture painted here is one of a much more complex and varied pattern of regional engagement in the EU than the most common metaphors of a ‘Europe of the Regions’ or the EU's ‘Third Level’ would lead us to believe.
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