7.1 Summary of Sections 1–3
In summary, this course has endeavoured to substantiate a variety of related points which epitomise current trends and problems in governing European diversity.
‘Regions’ and ‘regionalism’ in Western Europe display great diversity in economic, social and cultural terms, within particular states as well as between states; regions vary widely in size, population, levels of development, history, identity and politics (or lack thereof). But since the heyday of the centralised nation state in the 1930s and 1940s, most of Europe's regions have politically grown increasingly more important. This 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 became more crucial and this has made ‘global’ or at least ‘international’ players of regional (and local) authorities which previously had acted largely with and through their central governments. These developments have advanced furthest in the European Union, whose central institutions have directly encouraged regionalism and cross-border cooperation between regions to further the EU's political and economic integration. Regionalism has also been indirectly boosted by other EU policies, particularly the development of the Single European Market since the late 1980s.