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European Macro-regional Strategies as Promoters of Environmental Policy Rescaling and 'soft' Policy Spaces

Dominic Stead

The trans-boundary nature of environmental problems, where impacts are felt in multiple jurisdictions, mean that policies to address them often need to be transnationaland multi-sectoral. Increasing emphasis on trans-boundary environmental problems in policy-making has been accompanied by processes of policy rescaling. Theseprocesses not only imply changes in powers across existing layers of decision-making but can also imply new scales of intervention, new actor constellations, andvariable geometries of governance. The emergence of ‘soft spaces’ quot; multi-area sub-regions in which strategy is being made between or alongside formalinstitutions and processes quot; is another phenomenon associated with contemporary rescaling. These spaces are often overlapping, characterised by fuzzyboundaries and have a strong emphasis on pragmatism or ‘getting things done’. This paper discusses the recent emergence of European macro-regional strategies inthe light of processes of rescaling and the creation of these ‘soft spaces’. Attention is primarily focused on the development of the Baltic Sea Strategy, the firstEuropean macro-regional strategy to be published, which appeared in the summer of 2009. The strategy addresses a range of issues and challenges, not just limited toenvironmental matters, although many of them are closely related to the environment, and environmental challenges are presented as the most important rationale forthe strategy.

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