Since the heyday of the centralised nation state in the 1930s and 1940s, most of Europe's regions have grown increasingly more important in economic, political and/or cultural terms.
This growth has been largely in response to regional inequalities in economic development, threats to traditional regional cultures, and the political federalisation of states, whether to reduce their centralised power or to contain regional separatisms.
More generally, since the 1970s, accelerated globalisation has meant that attracting external sources of investment has become more crucial and this has made ‘global’ or at least ‘international’ players of regional (and local) authorities, which now deal directly with the external sources whereas previously they had usually acted through their central governments or simply relied on the central authorities acting on their behalf.
Note examples of the following:
a nationalist/regionalist resurgence inspired by an anti-colonial liberation struggle;
a nationalism of the extreme ‘right’;
a region being granted autonomy in an effort to prevent state disintegration;
a region established as a way of reducing central power;
a region that has successfully attracted foreign investment.