European Union and Local
Government: The Challenges of
Integration and Internationalization
The European Union (EU) has been experiencing two contradictory tendencies: (i) the tendency toward economic integration, albeit in an uneven manner, under the force of the logic of capital and the resultant internationalization of the process of production and of exchange, and (ii) the tendency toward the restructuring of the national state so as to meet the needs of economic integration, at the supranational level, and the demands for political legitimization and democratization, at the local-national and supranational level.
In the context of the provisions of the Maastricht Treaty, and the principle of subsidiarity associated with it, this chapter intends to examine the content and the form of the triangular institutional relationship between local government, the national state, and EU institutions. The focus of the analysis will be on the European regions within the EU economy and the issue of work (forms of work organization) and employment (local labor markets).
The discussion begins with the presentation of an analytical framework concerning the process of internationalization, integration, and institutional transformation. Then, in the main section of the chapter the analysis concentrates on the three issues raised and discussed here: the regulation of the labor markets, the restructuring of the labor process and the organization of work, and the activation of the regional and local authorities in the EU political structure. On these issues I shall try to argue for the following points: (i) the restructuring of the production process reinforces the segmentation of the labor market, and reinforces the alteration of the labor policies from the traditional defensive labor policies designed to provide unemployment protection to more active labor policies designed to regulate the labor market so as to meet the demands of capital accumulation. This entails, in accordance with the neoliberal logic