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'Macro-regional Europe' - Paving the Ground for a New Form of European Governance?

Stefan Gänzle, Kristine Kern

Drawing on an assessment of the first macro-regional strategy, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) launched in 2009, we argue that the European Union has started a process of 'macro-regionalization' - underwritten by macro-regional strategies - because it has become too diverse to devise integrative schemes that will sustain collective action problems. We conceive of macro-regionalisation as a process underpinned by a single strategic approach focussing on a sufficient number of issues in common, such as a common pool resource (sea, river, etc.). It aims at building functional and transnational regions between the EU, the Member States as well as partner countries. Macro-regional strategies affect numerous international, intergovernmental, and non-governmental actors stretching from the European to the local level. They affect the implementation of EU policies; require an alignment of project funding through Structural Funds; improve horizontal and vertical interplay among the different countries, sub-national governments, and stakeholders in the region; and combine the internal and external dimension of Europeanization because they co-opt non-EU macro-regional institutions (e.g., regional sea conventions such as HELCOM). Thus, macro-regional strategies have the potential to lead to a new mode of European governance.

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