How to 'connect' micro-regions with macro-regions? A Note (9 pages)
According to Durán et al (2009), in this evolution towards more international
actorness, three ‘waves’ can be distinguished. In a first wave, starting in the 1980s, certain
micro-regions started to get involved in the promotion of foreign direct investment (FDI)
and tourism, and the affirmation of their culture and identity.
A second wave started in the 1990s when certain micro-regions were provided with
certain legally or constitutionally grounded diplomatic instruments. In some cases, micro-
regions started to build a foreign-policy apparatus (i.e. an administration), mainly consisting
of horizontal coordination between the different functional departments. The authors
currently see a third wave, which is characterized by a verticalization of the organizational
, a strategic re-orientation of the geo-political and/or functional priorities (e.g.
more emphasis on multilateralism and inter-regionalism), the integration of external
instruments of sub-state foreign policy into a well-performing whole, and the enmeshment
of diplomacy and para-diplomacy.
For the purpose of our short article, it is important to highlight the similarity
and/or convergence between both phenomena. Not only can one find coinciding
objectives (commercial interest, political objectives, affirmation of identity), but macro-
regions and micro-regions are also faced with common issues and obstacles when pursuing
these objectives. These issues include their unclear diplomatic status and the issue of
representation in multilateral scenarios. Macro-regions and micro-regions can thus be seen
as similar emerging international actors.
4. Cross-border micro-regions and macro-regions as related
Besides their possible definitional connection (see point two), and their coinciding
extra-regional and international actorness (point three), I distinguish a third way to connect
micro –and macro-regions. I focus thereby on a sub-set of micro-regions, namely the
hybrid cross-border micro-regions. I am referring to cases such as the Euro-regions in the
European Union (EU), the US-Mexican border, the growth triangles in Southeast Asia, the
Development Corridors in Southern Africa, the zonas fronterizas in the Andean region, etc.
It can be shown, both empirically and theoretically, that the development of both types of
regions is not necessarily disconnected.