5 Toward a ‘Europe of the Regions’?
The significance of regionalism hinges on empirical questions about the probable future of the EU and normative questions about the (un)desirability of different models for the future. A return to the traditional ‘Europe of Nations’ (that is, nation states) model is improbable precisely because of the growth of regionalism, as well as the firm establishment of the central institutions of the EU. On the other hand, because of the continuing power of states and their major say in European integration, the federalisation process will probably be ‘arrested’ long before the arrival of the ‘Federal Europe’ super-state model (Anderson, 1996). If so, the most plausible of the three dominant models would seem to be the ‘Europe of the Regions’.
However, when it is claimed, explicitly or implicitly, that regions will replace the Europe of nation states, problems immediately arise. So here it is essential to distinguish the growth of sub-state nationalist and regionalist politics, an established reality in Western Europe, from what I consider the ultimately implausible ideology of a ‘Europe of the Regions’.