7.2 Summary of Sections 4–6
However, the idea propagated in the 1990s that Europe's future lies in a loose, decentralised federation of regions, and that regions are replacing nation states (allegedly too small for global competition but too big for cultural identification, apparently being eroded ‘from above’ by globalisation and the EU and ‘from below’ by regionalism, and inherently associated with nationalistic conflict), is very misleading. Notwithstanding the problems of nation states and nationalism, in our view this ‘small is beautiful’ ideology of a ‘Europe of the Regions’ can be rejected on empirical and normative grounds: the existing member states still largely control EU integration; they define the regions; the strongest regional threats to nation states come from nationalist movements wanting their own ‘nation state’; most regions would be less able to cope with the pressures of globalisation; and the great diversity of regions undermines any possibility of them replacing nation states.
Instead of the future lying unambiguously with regions, or with a European super-state, or a return to the traditional Europe of nation states, it is much more likely to resemble the multi-level present. Regions will continue to develop but through complex interactions with the EU, the member states, other regions and cities, and non-territorial associations which span these different territorial ‘levels’.