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'Thinking European': Self-identity and Regional Mobilisation in Vienna

Anil Awesti

The paper takes a bottom-up approach to the role of sub-national authorities (SNAs) in the European Union by asking the question of why and how SNAs involve themselves in EU policy-making. This is undertaken via a comparative examination of the Vienna city administration and Greater London Authority city-regions' involvement in the highly under-researched trans-European networks - transport (TENT) policy area. In taking such an approach, the paper develops a new institutional understanding of multi-level governance (MLG). By applying the analytical tools of new institutionalism to MLG, the paper proposes a framework for understanding MLG as existing in three distinct types, varying in accordance to its rational choice, historical and sociological institutionalist guises. The institutional types of MLG are clearly identifiable in the experiences of Vienna and London, presenting different perspectives on the emergence or not of an MLG form of policy-making in Austria and the United Kingdom. In particular, a sociological institutionalist approach to MLG emphasises SNAs as proactive political players, stressing their ability to actively involve themselves in the EU policy-making process via the mobilisation of their own political and economic resources. Such an outcome is seen to emerge as a result of SNA perceptions of the importance of the EU. Specifically, the post-Cold war transformation in Vienna's geopolitical environment has resulted in the city administration perceiving itself as a distinct political actor with its own interests at the centre of the 'new Europe'. As such, the paper argues that a European self-identity built in to the administrative culture of a SNA is crucial in facilitating the consistent and dynamic engagement with the EU level required in order to achieve policy influence.

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