Hepburn, Eve. (2007) The Rise and Fall of a ‘Europe of the Regions’: The Territorial Strategies of Substate Political Parties 1979-2006. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)
This paper unpacks the diverse ways in which substate parties responded to, interpreted, and used the imagery of a ‘Europe of the Regions’ to advance their claims for autonomy. Changes in state and European structures have led to a greater emphasis on territorial interests and identities and in response, parties have been forced to take a position on how they want their territory to fit into the newly emerging European order. However, parties have not taken consistent positions on Europe. Rather, they have exhibited a cyclical quality, moving back and forth on Europe. This is due to a combination of local and statewide factors. But their positions also changed over time, in response to perceived opportunities for regional action in Europe. Whilst many substate parties were cautious of Europe in the late 1970s, by the early 1990s parties enthusiastically supported autonomy in a ‘Europe of the Regions’. This goal won support across the political spectrum, causing independence-seeking parties to moderate their claims and regional branches of statewide parties to strengthen their territorial demands. However, the convergence of autonomy goals was not to last: it soon gave way to doubt and concern as regional interests were repeatedly ignored in Europe. Parties began to change tactics in the late 1990s, with many reverting back to previous goals or adopting more Eurosceptical positions. This raises the question of how ‘Europeanised’ parties are, and forces us to re-think how parties understood European integration in the first place. The Europe of the Regions debate is reviewed here through the study of three substate territories – Scotland, Bavaria and Sardinia – over a period of a quarter century. It examines how the imagery of a Europe of the Regions was used to support a variety of party goals, ranging from independence, to accessing European structural funds, to rolling back European competences.
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