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Carmen Gebhard, Working Material and Information Retrieval in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 20 - 21

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5 https://doi.org/10.5771/9783845212395

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
20 build-up of some sort of meso-level regional and subregional agenda or even counterpart. The effectiveness and positive performance of the EU, as of any other international organisation, highly depends on the constructive attitude and ideational solidarity of its member states. The question of the disintegrative impact that, for example, regional self-centeredness of single member states could have on the European Union as a political project should be considered more explicitly in academic studies that deal with region-building and regionalist developments. Scholars have found very flowery phrases to describe the regionalist dynamics, the “myriads”21 of cooperative ventures that have “mushroomed”22 “in the name of the Baltic world.”23 Indeed, countless papers and case studies about the BSR have taken the phenomenon of Baltic Sea Regionalism as a starting point for analysis. However, only few of them have suggested some sort of classification that would first help to systemise the high number of different associations and initiatives and thus, to grasp the structural diversity at hand.24 D. Methodological Approach I. Working Material and Information Retrieval Undertaking a study about ‘regionness’ including regional self-definition and identity as an outsider, which means in this case, as a European but non-Scandinavian and non- Baltic as well as an academic that is not based in the region, to some extent always raises the question of credibility and originality. One must always be aware of the risk of producing an external view without sufficiently taking into account certain societal and ideological factors, which might indeed be crucial for an overall understanding of the regional specificities. This is why I consciously tried to especially consider the written sources produced in the region, most importantly in Scandinavia and the Baltic States, including daily press and official documents by governmental and other authorities. Even though most official documents as well as a great part of the academic literature are available in English, it generally proved useful to include Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic sources as well. The collection of Scandinavian material was mainly conducted in the course of two sojourns (in 2005 and 2007) at the Baltic and East European Graduate School (BEEGS) in Huddinge (S) and at the A. Lindh Centrum for Defence, Security and Foreign Policy situated at the Swedish Defence College (Försvarshögskolan) in Stockholm (S). Major sources of information were also found at the European Documentation Centre/European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) in Maastricht (NL). 21 VON SYDOW Emily: Den Baltiska dimensionen. Stockholms geopolitiska roll i EU. In: EHRLING Guy (ed.): Stockholm international. Stockholm 2000, pp. 23-36, here 23. 22 SCOTT James Wesley: Cross-border Governance in the Baltic Sea Region. In: ANDERSON James/O’DOWD Liam/WILSON Thomas M. (eds): New Borders for a Changing Europe. Crossborder Cooperation and Governance. London 2002, pp. 135-153, here p. 135. 23 LEHTI Marko: Competing or Complementary Images. The North and the Baltic World from the Historical Perspective. In: HAUKKALA Hiski (ed.): Dynamic Aspects of the Northern Dimension. Turku 1999, pp. 2-28, here p. 23. 24 One of those rare examples can be found in KERN Kristine: Voller Dynamik: Der Ostseeraum. Governance jenseits des Nationalstaats. In: Mitteilungen des Wissenschaftszentrums Berlin, Nr. 106, p. 45-47. 21 Details about the single cooperative formations in the region as laid out in the annex of this study were partly collected on the basis of direct requests to the respective secretariat or administrative board. The collection of relevant information also comprised a series of informal explorative interviews with selected EU officials as well as with experts from relevant international think tanks such as, for example, Hiski Haukkala, Researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs/Ulkopoliittisen instituutin in Helsinki (FI), and Ar?nas Molis, Head of the Eastern Countries Monitoring Division at the Centre for Strategic Studies/Strategini? studij? centras in Vilnius (LT).25 The working material mainly comprised secondary literature (textbooks, relevant periodicals and scholarly journals), journalistic (daily and weekly press) as well as primary sources, such as official EU-documents, constitutive declarations and statutes of regional and sub-regional associations. II. Research Strategy This study follows an issue and problem-oriented research strategy. The empirical phenomenon of regionalism in the BSR builds the point of departure, and remains the centre of reference throughout the whole analytical process. Instead of presenting a compound theoretical framework at the beginning to frame the focus of analytical perception, the study follows an inverted structure, in which the theoretical incorporation and abstraction of Baltic Sea Regionalism, of the Baltic Sea Conundrum, constitutes the ultimate step in the research process. The consideration behind this strategic choice is that the present stock of theories does not offer any approach that would perfectly suit and accommodate the specificities of the very research questions investigated in this study. As the most appropriate theoretical model is expected to involve a combination of existing theoretical models, the study seeks to reconciliate various traditions of thought alongside the demands posed by the empirical subject matter. The underlying motivation is mainly to provide a theoretical basis for future empirical contributions to the field without necessarily opting for any single approach to explain a limited range of questions. The study also refrains from testing certain pregiven hypotheses, which is supported by the fact that many aspects of the empirical phenomenon concerned are not immediately manifest and testable in the narrow sense. The study first locates the BSR case conceptually within the broad range of ‘regionalisms’, which include various different forms of collective organisation or networking focusing on a specific region or spatial entity. Descriptive elaborations on the emergence and development of Baltic Sea Regionalism prepare for the issue-driven discussion of various strands of theory, namely European Integration Theory (EIT), International Relations Theory (IRT) as well as Comparative Theory (CT). The overview gained from this assessment builds the basis for the concluding remarks on the ‘abstractability’ of the subject matter. The practical aim of the theoretical section (chapter 4) is to track the explanatory value and potential shortcomings of selected approaches in the face of the analytical perspective of this study, and thereby, to provide useful reference for further discussions about the theoretical incorporation of Baltic Sea Regionalism, and for future empirical studies dealing with the phenomenon. 25 Most interview partners declined to be cited directly. Their contributions mainly influenced the overall arrangement of the study but did not add any content that would have to be quoted in detail.

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Zusammenfassung

Seit 1989 ist es im Ostseeraum zu einer explosionsartigen Entstehung einer Vielzahl von regionalen Initiativen und Zusammenschlüssen gekommen. Der Ostseeraum weist bis heute eine europaweit einzigartig hohe Konzentration an kooperativen regionalen Strukturen auf. Diese bilden gemeinsam ein enges Netzwerk von Vereinigungen, die unter dem Überbegriff der "Ostseezusammenarbeit’ interagieren.

Diese Studie analysiert die Hintergründe dieses regionalen Phänomens oder so genannten „Ostsee-Rätsels“ auf Basis eines Vergleichs zwischen den Regionalpolitiken zweier staatlicher Schlüsselakteure, Schweden und Finnland, wobei der europäische Integrationsprozess als übergeordneter Bezugsrahmen für die Untersuchung dient.