Multi-level governance revisited: comparing the strategies of interest representation of legislative regions in EU environmental policy- making.
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Since the 1980s, regions have taken a strong interest in EU policy-making and increasingly demanded representation in the process. This has given rise to the concept of multi-level governance (MLG) in EU policy-making, which stipulates that subnational and supranational actors will interact and thus to some extent erode the authority of central governments. However, due to the scarcity of case study research looking at concrete instances of policy-making, a number of questions remain about the extent and the effectiveness of the interaction between regional governments and European actors. In addition, the extent and origins of differences in regional activity across regions and member states remain unclear. This thesis aims to contribute to the MLG debate by developing a theoretical framework with a set of hypotheses about regional activism in EU policy-making on the basis of rational choice institutionalist assumptions. It then investigates how seven legislative regions from four member states (the UK, Germany, Belgium and Austria) represent their interests in two concrete instances of EU policy-making and tests the core hypotheses against these fourteen cases. The thesis contributes to the MLG debate in three ways. Firstly, the principal objective of the thesis is to analyse the impact of different types of domestic intergovernmental relations on the strategies of regions at the European level. It is argued that the level and nature of a region's activity on the European level depends on the opportunities for influence in the domestic European policy-making process and the constraints that domestic rules place on European level activity. Secondly, a number of factors that could account for different levels of regional activity both within and between states are analysed. Domestic conflict and the capacity of a region are found to be particularly relevant for regional mobilisation. Finally, the thesis discusses the relative importance of domestic channels compared to European channels of regional interest representation, thus addressing one of the fundamental questions in the MLG literature. It is argued that unmediated interaction between European actors and regional governments is less common than predicted by the MLG literature, but that it can be effective, especially in cases where regions devise a comprehensive strategy of interest representation.