"It's not about winning, it's about participating". Uncovering the determinants of regional participation in the policy-making structures of the European Union
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This thesis seeks to uncover which factors determine regional participation in European Union policy-making structures. It does so by conducting a multiple regression analysis of 233 regions from all the 27 member-states in the EU. Previous research on regional participation in the EU is mainly concentrated in two contrasting traditions: one qualitative with focus on describing possible regional participation through different channels, and one quantitative concerned with explaining what causes regions to participate in one specific way by setting up representation offices in Brussels. In this thesis, these two traditions are brought together. First, the qualitative tradition is used to construct a measure of participation that includes all possible channels regions have to participate in EU policy-making. Second, this measure, which conceptualizes participation more broadly than measures used in previous quantitative research and hence gives a more profound understanding of the relations between European regions and the EU, is used within the framework of the causal tradition as the dependent variable in the multiple regression analysis. The central finding of the analysis is that the main determinant of regional participation in EU policy-making is the degree of political autonomy regions have within their national polities. The more autonomous a region is domestically, the more it participates in the policy-making structures of the Union. Furthermore, it is found that degree of autonomy matters particularly much for regional participation in the Council of the European Union, the Committee of the Regions, and in European-wide lobbies. For the participation of regions in the European Commission and the European Parliament, and for the establishment of representation offices in Brussels, political autonomy is found to be less important. Other factors such as regional resources and regional identity are not found to have any significant effect on regional participation in the EU. The findings imply that the degree to which regions manage to bypass the nation-state and access EU policy-making largely remains under the control of the central state through national devolutionary arrangements and provisions. However, there are some trends towards more decentralization in many EU member-states, indicating that regional participation might increase in the years to come. Moreover, regions themselves may have some scope of action by trying to access the policy-making channels where participation is less affected by the degree of political autonomy.