4 Regionalism in the EU
Since the ending of the long post-war boom in the early 1970s, the EU has developed in response to intensified competition in global markets, the member states have been progressively ‘pooling’ their sovereignty in economic matters, and globalisation's political consequences have gone furthest in the EU, not least in its regions. There are thus additional, specifically EU, factors in the growth of regionalism. It has been encouraged directly by the EU's regional policies and the regional engagements of its central institutions, particularly the Commission, the Parliament and the Committee for the Regions. There is the often explicit intention of advancing the EU's own cohesion and integration via the regions, and regions are seen as a distinct ‘third level’ of the EU along with its central institutions and the member states (Jeffery, 1997). Less obviously but very importantly, the EU has also stimulated regionalism indirectly through forces within the regions themselves responding to general integrative developments such as the Single European Market (SEM) and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) (Anderson and Goodman, 1995). Regions striving to become attractive actors on the international stage find ‘Brussels’ a helpful prop (and literally a good place to set up a ‘shop-window’ lobbying office); and those seeking greater autonomy or separate statehood find the EU a useful ‘umbrella’ in providing a trump card against arguments that they are too small and parochial. They can have ‘independence in Europe’, in the slogan of the Scottish National Party, with the obvious corollary that it is in fact the British nationalists defending the integrity of the UK state who are being ‘parochial’. Thus while the diversity of regionalism is qualified by the common factor of globalisation, the EU gives it a further overarching ‘unity’.