States and Regions in the European Union: Institutional Adaptation in Germany and Spain

States and Regions in the European Union: Institutional Adaptation in Germany and Spain

States and Regions in the European Union: Institutional Adaptation in Germany and Spain

States and Regions in the European Union: Institutional Adaptation in Germany and Spain

Synopsis

This book reveals how the institutional structures of different countries have been changed in different ways by membership in the European Union. In particular, the author shows how European Union membership has affected the relationship between the center and the regions. In studies of Germany and Spain, she indicates how Europeanization has undermined the regions, but then led to cooperation between center and regions to get the most from the European Union.

Excerpt

In 1992 a change in the German Constitution provided the German regions (Länder) with comprehensive co-decision rights in European policymaking. That change made it possible for the Länder not only to determine the German bargaining position if their legislative or administrative competencies were affected, but the Länder were also permitted to sit at the negotiation table in the Council of Ministers for the very first time. If a European issue falls within the area of their exclusive competencies, it is a Länder Minister, and not a member of the German government, who represents the Federal Republic of Germany in the European decisionmaking process.

Two years later, in 1994, the Spanish government and the 17 Spanish regions (Comunidades Autónomas) agreed on a formal procedure through which the Comunidades Autónomas were to participate in the decisionmaking and implementation of European policies. The procedure was further developed and became law in 1997. Unlike the German Länder, the Comunidades Autónomas do not have access to the Council of Ministers. But they can determine the Spanish bargaining position if their exclusive competencies are affected. For the very first time the Comunidades Autónomas have the right to participate directly in centralstate decision-making.

The participation of the German and Spanish regions in European policy-making is a clear example of how Europeanization may affect the institutions of the member states. In both cases, we observe a formal institutional change, which aims to counterbalance the progressive transfer of regional competencies to the European level. As compensation for their loss of power, the regions are granted co-decision rights in the formulation and representation of the national bargaining position. Yet, in Germany the constitutional change of 1992 has merely expanded the existing institutions of cooperative federalism to the realm of European policy-making. European issues are subject to the same rules of decision-making and coordination procedures as domestic issues. In Spain, on the contrary, the participation of the Comunidades Autónomas in European policy-making . . .

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