Eleni Andrikopoulou and Grigoris Kafkalas
Europeanisation is understood as an iterative process that proceeds on a highly controversial and contested terrain (Benz and Eberlein 1998; Spanou 2001). 1 An important source of confusion is the fact that during the various stages of European integration political means have been used to achieve economic ends and vice versa. The inherent ambiguity on the process of Europeanisation is reflected in the conceptual controversies that underpin the theoretical debate on European integration. For example, there is little agreement on whether the transformation of domestic territorial orders has weakened or strengthened the role and the functions of the nation-state (Olsen 2002; Börzel and Risse 2000; Knill and Lehmkuhl 1999). Thus, theories that support the first view coexist with those that support the exact opposite. Indeed, whereas some argue that integration leads to some kind of European federal union, others highlight signs of increasing national state power. In addition, it has been acknowledged that while the nation state plays an important role in the system, its sovereignty has been eroded. Nation states are being transformed into parts of a multilevel polity as a result of the actions of numerous subnational and supranational actors (Marks et al. 1996). In this context, the nation state seems to have moved from the role of authoritative regulator to that of a partner, mediator and central relay in a system of networks that contribute to the complex, multilevel governance system of the EU (Schmidt 1997).
Placing regional policy in this context is not a straightforward process. Benz and Eberlein (1998) highlight a twofold pressure: from below, i.e. from the regional level whose representatives seek to become involved in the European policy process, and from above, i.e. from the European Commission who seeks to identify partners in support for territorial and other policies. Thus, it is not surprising that both the legitimacy and effectiveness of European regional policy are contested. In the domestic context, regional policy is legitimised on the basis of a varying mixture of objectives relating to both the exploitation of comparative advantages and the promotion of balanced development within