Multilevel governance systems: The European Union

As mentioned, an additional index is constructed for subnational participation in EU decision-making, which only applies to EU member states. However, it can be widened when other supranational systems emerge that are comparable to the EU in scope and depth.

The index does not measure the autonomy of member states’ central authorities in the EU: this is measured in the previous indexes, with the EU as the central level of authority, and the national member states as the subnational units of analysis. Instead, particular attention is given to how SNEs within the member states are involved in EU decision-making. This is important because many powers transferred to the EU arc located with the SNEs in the member states. If subnational powers are constrained by the EU, and SNEs have a responsibility to implement EU Directives and execute EU Regulations, then it makes sense

to give SNEs some representation at the EU level. This is important for the effectiveness of EU laws as well as the autonomy of SNEs. In this vein, even the local levels are relevant as a unit for analysis. The most prominent example is Germany, where local units have direct or indirect involvement in 80% of the responsibilities to implement or execute EU laws.[1]

Likewise, the index does not measure how cohesive the EU system is. Again, this is measured in the previous indexes. Here, the member states constitute the central level of authority. This is because the member states are the EU’s main points of contact. Where the EU allows for the involvement of SNEs, it is mostly for each member state to decide to what extent they actually have a say. This is different for each member state.

Subnational involvement occurs in different ways. A detailed analysis takes into account whether and how SNEs are involved in the approval of EU treaties; represented in the Council of Ministers; or involved in the subsidiarity procedure that allows parliaments to interfere in EU decision-making. One could even go into more detail and include the involvement of SNEs in expert committees that prepare Commission proposals or in other forms of EU decision-making such as the Open Method Coordination. Although this index does not take a minimalist approach, too much detail would undermine the feasibility of the analysis. Therefore, this index concentrates on two aspects: the ‘constitutional’ moment of EU-trcaty approval, and representation in the Council of Ministers, which is the most powerful decision-making body. An index with more dimensions could be developed in follow-up research that has a specific focus on EU decision-making.

  • [1] Volkmar Kese et al. Steigerung der Europafähigkeit der Landkreise - Notwendigkeit strategischer Steuerung (Ludwigsburg: Institut für Anpassungsherausforderungen durch europäische Politiken und weltweite Migration, 2018) 5. 2 For a comparison of three different models, with the United Kingdom, Germany, and Belgium as prototypes, see Patricia Popelicr, ‘Subnational multilevel constitutionalism’, (2014) 6 Perspectives on Federalism 9-18. 3 Ibid. 4 Art. 48 (2-5) TEU.
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