There has never been a more opportune moment for the European Commission to strengthen the role of sub-national stakeholders and citizens in EU regional policy. National governments across the EU seem prepared to devolve power to lower levels of governance to help overcome systemic challenges. Nordregio researchers analysed this topic and published an article “Why territory matters for implementing active subsidiarity in EU regional policy”.
This article examines the main tenets of active subsidiarity and how they relate to competing notions of territory and key regional policymaking instruments for the 2021–2027 programme period. Several EU member states have been involved in the formulation of the latest reinterpretation of the subsidiarity principle, emphasizing a stronger role for the sub-national level in EU regional policy making.
“EU policymakers must embrace the concept of territory if they are to effectively implement ‘active subsidiarity’ in the field of EU regional policy. Territory matters in EU regional policy as defined regional boundaries provide an important framework for engaging sub-national level actors and bringing the EU closer to citizens. A stronger recognition of territory is required if EU policymakers are to raise citizen awareness, understanding and involvement in EU regional policy, which might help contribute towards increasing citizen support for the EU project”, says Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio Dr. John Moodie.
Research Fellow Mari Wøien Meijer adds that “Territorial analysis is fundamental for understanding key challenges and opportunities in EU regions and including local experiences and knowledge in EU regional policymaking processes. By neglecting territorial aspects, we run the risk of creating EU regional policies that are far removed from the people these policies are made for”.
According to the researchers, bringing EU regional policy closer to its citizens can only be achieved by empowering citizens’ active involvement in the development and implementation of policy. In this regard, the constructs of ‘active subsidiarity’ and ‘territory’ matter a great deal in EU regional policymaking. The analytical lens provided by these constructs, if embraced by policy makers, can be a deﬁning framework around which to build effective bottom-up and place-based territorial governance policy instruments.