Decentralization and Transition in the Visegrad: Poland, by Emil J. Kirchner (eds.)

By Emil J. Kirchner (eds.)

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By Emil J. Kirchner (eds.)

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CONCLUSION The discussion of local and regional reform presented here demonstrates why such reforms need to be viewed as a process rather than as single instances of institutional or constitutional change. In practically all of the cases -in the West as well as in the East - reform is the result of contradictory pressures from above and below. Radical demands confront piecemeal offers of change, and these in tum encounter backlash both from reformers and preservers of the status quo. Regionalization is hardly ever based on a blueprint for change which is agreed by all the parties involved and then consensually implemented.

It was rare that regions in the EC shared more than a number of very general common interests, and these were mainly restricted to institutional improvements within the Community. Formulating and actively promoting these common interests has been the success story of the AER in the run-up to Maastricht. But once these were met, even if not in full, a substantive debate about the content of these new rights was bound to start. In regard to the Committee of the Regions, for example, lengthy and not altogether conclusive debates occurred, within the Member States as well as on the European level, about the role and the person of the President, about the degree of independence of the Secretary-General from the Economic and Social Committee, about the inclusion of civil servants as opposed to elected politicians and about the relative strength of local and regional representation on the Committee.

14 While regional politics run their course, the political economy of regionalization seems largely unaffected by party politics. The 'paradox of the region', as it has been called, is that greater and greater demands are being made on the regulatory capacity of the regional level, without a corresponding transfer of political legitimacy to decision-making at that level. 15 This is true for Italy as much as for France 16 and the UK. 17 Generally, there has been a secular trend, based on a variety of developments - globalization, technological change, the Single Market and privatization - which has resulted in the increasing significance of the regional level for economic policy.

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