TRAGOV – Transalpine Governance: Macro-regional arrangements as an opportunity structure for increasing citizen involvement in European policy making
Taking advantage of the Austrian EU Council (second semester of 2018), the Tyrolean EUSALP (2018) and Alpine Convention (2017-2018) presidencies, TRAGOV aims at fostering the academic, practitioners, and civil society debate about opportunities and challenges of trans-regional cooperation within the EU multi-level system of governance. TRAGOV will increase knowledge, ownership and mutual trust on opportunities, structures, instruments and obstacles of multi-level-, meta- and inclusive governance in transnational and transregional cooperation. TRAGOV’s overarching question is how and under which conditions various levels of action can voice their interests within three stages of the EUSALP’s policy processes – the initiation, development and implementation of (projected) policy outcomes. Accordingly, TRAGOV is to study and debate functions and profiles of governmental structures regarding their interplay with civil society, intermediary actors, and parliaments at the trans-regional, -national and European level.
BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE
Within the EU, territorial, transnational and transregional cooperation create distinct opportunities for subnational, regional and local authorities, and civil society. Empirical evidence shows that transnational and -regional instruments enable regional authorities and civil society to tackle functional problems, raise means for joint action, and strengthen their position in the national, regional and European sphere. At the same time, most studies overlook an important dimension of the relationship between cross-border opportunities and regional actors: Opportunities may not emerge automatically, but are actively pursued, shaped and counter-acted. Consequently, TRAGOV shifts attention to the emergence of regional and trans-regional capacities as subjects of EU territorial cooperation. We will explore how, and under which conditions, regional actors fill cross-border and transnational regions with their motivations, ideas, interpretations, and strategies. How do regional actors attempt to create functional, financial and relational opportunity structures?
TRAGOV draws on neo-institutionalist, multi-level governance and, strategic-relational approaches and the concept of multi-spatial metagovernance. The approach allows examining the role of regional and trans-regional actors between both, strategically pursued aims and constraining and empowering structures. Building on this concept, TRAGOV starts from the assumption that strategies like EUSALP have the potential to offer added value for more effective, efficient and democratic EU policies.