Carmen Gebhard, Levels of Regionalism: Macro-, Meso- and Micro-Regionalism in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 39 - 41

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
39 As a result of the break-up of the USSR in 1991, the Nordic states were given a unique opportunity to engage more actively in their adjacent region. [...] The Nordics demonstrated extensive willingness to support the democratic, economic and social development of the three Baltics.91 In the case of nation-state regional policy, this phenomenon is also called “defensive” or “proactive regionalism”, a state behaviour that can be interpreted as either being a sign of genuinely constructive efforts or as a geo-strategic approach aiming at mere (soft) power accumulation.92 In this very context, Sweden’s post Cold War regionalism directed towards the BSR was often said to have mainly served the purpose of enhancing its own geopolitical standing and of demonstrating its normative power by virtually transcending old dividing lines between East and West.93 This type of judgmental ‘regional-ism’ has also been applied to describe the activist attitude of the various region-building players that used to avail themselves of overblown and grandiose rhetoric and value-laden symbolisms in order to mobilise partners for their own objectives and purposes. III. Levels of Regionalism: Macro-, Meso- and Micro-Regionalism Regionalism as a phenomenon in international politics does not only involve different types of actors at different levels of political competence; regionalist dynamics also differ in terms of geographical reach and coverage. The process of regionalism occurs at different levels, i.e. covering a macro-, meso- or micro-sized area. Hence, an important distinction needs to be made between so-called Macro-, Meso- and Micro- Regionalism.94 examples Macro-Regionalism Large geographical units (‘world regions’ or ‘international regions’), ranging between the ‘state’ and the ‘global’ level; EU Meso-Regionalism or Sub-Regionalism medium size entities, also occurring between the ‘state’ and the ‘global’ level, but one level below Macro-Regionalism BSR Micro-Regionalism small geographical units, ranging between the ‘national’ and the ‘local’ or ‘municipal’ level Vlaanders region Table 4: Levels of Regionalism: Macro-, Meso- and Micro-Regionalism 91 See BERGMAN Annika: Adjacent Internationalism. The Concept of Solidarity and Post-Cold War Nordic-Baltic Relations. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 1/2006, pp. 73-97, here p. 74. See also chapter “The BSR as an Auto-Dynamic Unit Within the Wider Unit Europe”, p. 203-. 92 For more comments on “defensive Regionalism”, see chapter “Old North vs. New Regionalism – Visions Competing for the Same Space?”, p. 76-. 93 Sweden’s regional policy in the early post Cold War phase will be addressed in chapter “What accounts for Swedish and Finnish Self-Perception?”, p. 113-. 94 See SÖDERBAUM Fredrik: Exploring the Links between Micro-Regionalism and Macro- Regionalism. In: FARRELL Mary/HETTNE Björn/VAN LANGENHOVE Luk (eds): Global Politics and Regionalism. London 2005, pp. 87-103, here p. 91. 40 This tripartite typology shows that the case of the BSR is covered by the concept of Sub-regionalism, or rather Meso-Regionalism.95 The notion of ‘Meso-Regionalism’ appears more applicable to the purpose of this study as the idea of a sub-region suggests that there must always be a reference to the entity ranging above, i.e. the respective macro-region (in this case, the EU).96 In academic analyses, the BSR is alternately defined as a ‘region’ or a ‘sub-region’; accordingly, BSR specific political dynamics are referred to as either ‘regionalism’ or ‘sub-regionalism’. The use of these terms mainly depends on whether the BSR is being viewed and analysed as an entity of its own (‘region’), or as a subordinate entity subjected to a wider spatial framework, e.g. the EU, or more generally, Europe (‘sub-region’). BSR as a ‘region’ of its own BSR as a European ‘sub-region’ Figure 2: Models of Baltic Sea ‘Regionness’ – ‘Region’ and ‘Sub-Region’ This study is builds on the assumption that Baltic Sea Regionalism is to some extent but not exclusively embedded in the wider framework of European integration. Hence, the BSR is being analysed as both a European sub-region and a self-standing regional entity of its own. In order to clarify the terminology further, one also needs to differentiate between ‘regional’ and ‘sub-regional’ as terms either denominating – a certain catchment area, i.e. as given in the above-stated typology, covering the horizontal dimension of geographical reach, position and territorial correlation with other entities (e.g. BSR vs. Europe) or97 – a certain level of action, i.e. as terms concerning the vertical dimension of actorness and institutional responsibility, accountability and power. 95 The concept of ‘meso-regions’ is also commonly used in Science of History. There, it is based on the “identification of clusters of transnational structures common to a constructed region that is not necessarily congruent with political or geographical boundaries. [...] This heuristic approach serves as a device for comparative analysis.” See TROEBST Stefan: What is a historical region? A Teutonic Perspective. In: European Review of History, No. 2/Summer 2003, pp. 173-188, here p. 173. 96 Söderbaum gives a useful definition of what a sub-region is about. “Their ‘sub’ prefix indicates that they only make sense and must be understood in relation to macro-regions (for example there can be no sub-regions without reference to a larger macro-region).” SÖDERBAUM Fredrik: Exploring the Links between Micro-Regionalism and Macro-Regionalism. In: FARRELL Mary/HETTNE Björn/VAN LANGENHOVE Luk (eds): Global Politics and Regionalism. London 2005, pp. 87-103, here p. 91. 97 See scheme above. Europe/EU BSR BSR Mediterranean Balkans 41 In this second sense, the notion of ‘sub-regional’ and ‘sub-regionalism’ refers to the subordinate (and most often sub-state) actors existing and operating at subordinate levels. Confusingly, Baltic Sea Regionalism is sometimes also referred to as ‘Micro- Regionalism’ based on the notion of a much broader European macro-scale process. The conventional form of macro-regionalism is purely sub-national and usually takes place within the parameters of a nation-state. This sort of regionalism on the ‘micro’ or local level is often related to political/administrative planning, democratic or economic/distributional motives; in most cases it is also shaped by the relationship between central government and micro-regional political or administrative forces. Hence, it reflects a model of vertical and state-oriented organisation. Meso-Regionalism has a distinct cross-border focus, i.e. it stretches out beyond both the state level and the state territory. Hence, Meso-Regionalism as it occurs in the case of the BSR could also be labelled as “cross-border regionalism” or “transnational regionalism”.98 This type of regionalism is mostly based on a horizontal model of interaction and involves a wide range of different public and private actors that find themselves grouped together by way of networks or other cooperative formations.99 The territorial extent of regionalism, i.e. whether the respective catchment area is large or small, often informs about the level of action and the type of actors involved. In fact, it can be said that macro-regionalism mainly occurs at the inter-state or intergovernmental level, primarily involving state actors. Meso-Regionalism, on the other hand, may involve both state and non-state actors and includes intergovernmental interaction as well as non-governmental networking. Micro-Regionalism is naturally dominated by non-state actors and mainly occurs at a local level of action. However, needless to say, this pattern is not universally applicable. IV. Typologies Approaches that suggest certain typologies of regionalism that go beyond these simple distinctions considerably help to reduce the empirical complexity of various regionalist manifestations in international politics. They do serve as a tool for characterising the structure of different regionalist models, and for tracing certain regionalist developments over time. However, typologies remain practical tools with limited applicability and validity. 98 The notion of “trans-nationality” needs to be clearly distinguished from the term and concept of “inter-nationality”. Whereas internationality includes intergovernmental dealings, i.e. between the government of one nation-state with the government of another nation-state, or of several nationstates, transnationality covers activity which transcends national boundaries and in which nationstate governments do not play the most important or even a significant role. 99 See JÖNSSON, Christer/TÄGIL Sven/TÖRNQVIST Gunnar: Organizing European Space. Lund/London 2000, p. 149. According to this definition, one can identify a respectable number of Meso-Regions in Europe, such as the North Atlantic Basin, the Northern Atlantic Region, the Metropolises of Northwestern Europe, the Alpine Region, the Carpathian Region, the Danube Basin, the Southern Atlantic, the Latin Region, the Adriatic Basin, the Balkan Region, the Western Mediterranean Basin, and the Central Mediterranean Basin. See KIVIKARI Urpo: The Legacy of the Hansa. The Baltic Economic Region. Helsinki 1996.

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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.