By Arnau Gutiérrez Camps, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain. International Relations of Province of Barcelona, Spain- @arnaugutierrez
Local and regional governments have progressively become more active in the European arena. The evolution of mechanisms used by cities and towns illustrates the complexity of the international relations of local and regional governments: twinnings, international projects, networks and even institutions.
But, do local and regional governments have foreign policy? Most people would answer no. However, it is a fact that European local and regional governments perform international activities and take part in numerous international networks. Amongst the various factors that have allowed for the internationalization of cities and towns, the European integration process and the appearance of multilevel governance arrangements have been central.
The analysis of the Europeanization process accounts for two realities: local and regional governments are responsible for the implementation of a significant part of EU legislation (download or hierarchical Europeanization); and the interaction between European local and regional governments such as the exchange of experiences and innovation processes eventually reach the EU level (upload or cooperative Europeanization). Furthermore, multilevel governance arrangements —especially type 2, which accounts for numerous task-specific jurisdictions of intersecting memberships that overlap— predispose local and regional governments to carry out international initiatives.
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