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Institutionalization of Multi-Level Governance: Comparative Cases of CoR and CLRAE

Rusen Yasar

Committee of the Regions (CoR) has attracted the interest of many scholars as the potential locus of multi-level governance at European level. However, a very similar institution, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within Council of Europe (CLRAE) has remained relatively understudied, as its parent organization has been overshadowed by the obvious relevance of European Union. The main aim of this paper is to compare CoR and CLRAE in order to assess the influence of institutional settings on the propensity of these organizations to encourage multi-level decision making. The study is conducted by deriving data from the content of the official documentation such as opinions, recommendations, resolutions, proceedings and minutes, as well as semi-structured interviews, and by employing statistical, set-theoretical and qualitative methods. Preliminary analyses suggest that, in terms of the density of opinions favouring multi-level decision making, CoR displays a stronger upward trend over time, while the commissions which draft the documents constitute the strongest explanatory factor in both cases, controlling for the subject of documents. In addition, national divisions remain more apparent in CLRAE whereas members of CoR are more inclined to follow cross-national party lines. From a new institutionalist perspective, these findings can be interpreted as indicating the importance of the organizational features and capacity to provide decision equilibria among actors, and the path-dependent processes linked to the fundamental characteristics of European Union and Council of Europe with regard to European integration at large.

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