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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The sovereignty of national states is challenged by European integration and decentralization. A widening and deepening European Union (EU) and decentralization to subnational government have shifted authority—the competence to make binding decisions that are regarded as legitimate—away from national governments. In this chapter we document the extent to which authority has been dispersed and explore some of the reasons why this has taken place. We suggest that the jurisdictional architecture of the EU-polity has indeed become multilevel and that the structure of government reflects a tension between functional pressures and identity. In how far does this alter the locus of sovereignty? We conclude that multilevel governance does not negate national sovereignty but it does reduce its descriptive power. States remain the ultimate arbiters of the allocation of decision rights but this tells us little about who exerts authority over decision-making.

Keywords: multilevel governance, the state, state transformation, European Union, national sovereignty

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