A Europe of the Regions?
A Europe of the Regions?

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A Europe of the Regions?

2 The diversity of regions and regionalisms

2.1 What do we mean by ‘region’ and ‘regionalism’?

‘Region’ here refers to any piece of continuous territory, bigger than a mere locality or neighbourhood, which is part of the territory of a larger state (or states), and whose political authority or government, if it has any specific to itself, is subordinate to that of the state(s). Conventionally, most such ‘sub-state’ regions, and particularly most regions defined in terms of political authority, have fallen wholly within the borders of a single state. However, in situations where those borders are contested, as for instance in national separatist or irridentist conflicts, the relevant regions may straddle state borders; and in contemporary conditions of globalisation and transnational integration, as in the EU, cross-border regions can play a special integrative role. The related term ‘regionalism’ has perhaps even more varied meanings. It can refer to the top-down imposition (or ‘regionalisation’) of administration or government based on regional territory; or it may denote an active bottom-up identification with the region in social, cultural or political terms, a regionalist movement seeking more autonomy for a region, or a regionally-based nationalist movement which seeks a separate state; or indeed it may refer to any combination of these.

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