How to 'connect' micro-regions with macro-regions? A Note (9 pages)

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And it is thereby obvious that the conceptual problem is linked to the problem of

comparability.

Following the discussion on the uniqueness of the EU (the so-called N = 1

problem), it has been suggested that regions, while maintaining their geographical and

spatial expression, could be considered as governance levels or social systems with certain

statehood properties. The region is thereby explicitly defined by contrasting it with the

State, and seen as having some, but not all (!), statehood properties.

V

This kind of

definition opens the door to more general understandings of the region and allows

including supra-national regions and sub-national regions in one conceptual category. In

turn, this opens enormous opportunities to connect two distinct academic communities

and literatures. Finally, this broader regional concept is also able to deal with the previously

mentioned hybrid forms such as the Asian growth triangles, Southern African

Development Corridors and other cross-border micro-regions, and with ‘double-hybrid’

forms such as the new Benelux linking up with Nordrhein-Westfalen and Nord-Pas-de-

Calais.

3. Micro-regions and macro-regions as similar international actors

It is self-evident to say that macro-regions are international actors. Independently

of their architecture (i.e. relying predominantly on inter-governmental mechanisms or

rather on supra-national mechanisms), macro-regions are by definition an instance of

international action. What is of growing importance, however, is their extra-regional

actorness through coordinated or joint action. This is not limited to inter-regional relations

and negotiations but includes also region-to-state relations and interactions between

macro-regions and global institutions (UN, G-20, etc). These interactions take different

forms: financing projects and programs, partnering, voting coordination, seeking some

form of formal representation, etc. Micro-regions, subject to national authority and

constitution, are less likely candidates for international action. However, there is also a clear

trend here towards increasing international actorness as shown in the literature on sub-

national diplomacy.

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