Towards europeanized forms of regional action? The case of Varmland and Europe 2020

2013-09-20T09:12:55Z (GMT) by Magnus Lindh Lee Miles
Taking the central argument of the Conference COMPARING AND CONTRASTING “EUROPEANIZATION”: CONCEPTS AND EXPERIENCES as its departure and building upon the assumption that ‘top-down’ assessments of a supranational European Union (EU) must be balanced and linked to ‘bottom-up’ assessments of how such development are perceived by regional policymakers, institutions and elites, this article conceptualize two forms (ideal types) of regional action, ‘thick’ and ‘thin’, which is useful for comparative analysis of how Europeanization processes affect the regional level as well as regional responses to further Europeanization. The article then argues,in line with the proposition ‘policy determines politics’, that new policies at the EU level, as the Europe 2020 Strategy and the Cohesion Policy may spur ‘thicker’ forms of regional action, and that this process may have profound impact in unitary states (as the Nordics) with relatively weak regional levels of government. Preliminary results of an ongoing study (Fusing Regions Plus+) suggest that regional activities in an EU-related framework are changing towards ‘thick’ regional action. However, we are in an early stage in this process, and the article ends with a recommendation that researchers need to pay special attention towards regional activities within unitary states, as the Nordic, and how they are changed, or not, in relation to Europe 2020 and the demands from the upcoming period of the cohesion policy.