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New Frontiers in Researching European Local Government Networks

Christopher Huggins

A growing body of literature emerged in the 1990s focusing on local government and its relationship with the EU. This took a number of forms, for example the impact on sub-state-state-European relations, or evaluating the extent of Europeanization. Transnational networking was also identified, where local authorities interact with counterparts in other—particularly European—countries. Several reasons for this were identified, from obtaining funding to influencing policy. However, contemporary research in this area is scarce. The aim of this paper is to critically review existing literature on this topic. It then assess the need for further research in this area and propose possible directions this could take. It is argued that this area is under-researched, yet extremely important for understanding local and EU governance and wider European transnationalization. In a context of greater local government competence, localism and decentralization, while simultaneously facing resource cuts, transnational networking offers local authorities an innovative way to promote their interests and achieve goals. Researching this area not only has the potential to highlight the extent of this activity and increase our academic understanding of governance, the role of networks and European transnationalization; it also has the potential to yield practical benefits for practitioners.



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