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Multilevel governance and the EU Paolo R. Graziano Political Science AY 2011-2012 Lecture 14. Multilevel governance. Multilevel governance implies power sharing among different levels of government. It impacts on: sovereignity (power sharing) policy-making (policy coordination)
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Multilevel governance and the EUPaolo R. GrazianoPolitical Science AY 2011-2012Lecture 14
Multilevel governance • Multilevel governance implies power sharing among different levels of government. It impacts on: • sovereignity (power sharing) • policy-making (policy coordination) • representation (overlapping vs. conflicting membership) • Federalism is the main and more consolidated form of multilevel governance • Confederations are characterized by looser links since the participating countries retain sovereignity
Why federalism? • large countries… • …with significant territorial and historical differences and/or cleavages… • …which phase common external threats. • most common route to federalism: creating a new central authority during the nation-state building phase (ex. US, Switzerland, Canada, Australia) • less common (and more problematic) route to federalism: transferring sovereignity to lower levels of government (ex. Belgium)
Federalism types • dual federalism: national/federal and state governments operate independently following the Constitution’s allocation of powers (ex. US). • cooperative federalism: national and state/regional governments work together by following the subsidiarity principle – decisions should be taken at the lowest possible level (es. Germany).
Federalism: strenghts and weaknesses • Main strenghts: • provides vertical checks and balances • better allows for recognition of territorial differences • reduces overload to the centre • brings government closer to the people • Main weaknesses: • decision-making is slow and complicated (especially in the cooperative variant) • may enhance divisions between provinces • differential treatment of citizens • complicates accountability
The European Union • multilevel political system (not a supranational state, not a fully-fledged federation – closer to a confederation) • Main legislature: EU Council of Ministers (but with expanding powers for the European Parliament) • Main executive: European Commission • Main judiciary: European Court of Justice • Created in order to: • reduce internal conflicts • set up a common market • enhance international power
Evolving MLG and unitary states • Also centralized or federal functions have been increasingly shared with other actors: • deconcentration – central government functions are executed by delocalized staff (ex. US federal employees) • decentralization – central government functions are executed by subnational authorities (ex. local welfare programmes in Scandinavia) • devolution – central government grants some decision-making autonomy to lower levels (ex. regional governments in France and Spain, and more recently in the UK)
Regional governance and local government • After WW2, increasing powers have been granted to subnational levels of government… • …but very cautiously. • Initially, formal and limited autonomy; then regions (and local political fora) have become autonomous spaces for politics • Local governments (status and structure) differ significantly in various democratic regimes
Central-local relations in nondemocratic regimes • nondemocratic regimes often are NOT pure unitary states • main feature: substantial lack of autonomy… • …and very limited independent subnational spaces for politics. • Nevertheless, it is at the ‘lower’ level that innovative forms of governments – which may eventually lead to democratization processes – can occur.
Conclusion • over the past years, multilevel governance systems have expanded both within nation-states and at the international level • also unitary states have increased the availability of news subnational spaces for politics • main reform driver in democratic regimes: diversity ‘management’ concerns