This project formed part of the research programme, headed by the Constitution Unit at UCL, on “Nations and Regions: The Dynamics of Devolution” funded by the Leverhulme Trust. It drew on previous work on multi-level governance, which has focused attention upon the relations between different territorial tiers of governance. In the contemporary EU, this includes the links tying decentralised (‘regional’) governments into the EU policy process.
The aim of this research was therefore to track and assess the co-ordination mechanisms evolving in the post-devolution UK to engage Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in this policy process. Such mechanisms result from both the formal provisions of the Concordats and also other, less formal, linkages. It also the examined the mechanisms that have been developed in other EU member states (Austria, Belgium, Germany and Spain) which vary widely in both their scope and also the maturity of their decentralisation arrangements. This comparative element enabled the research to assess the adequacy of the UK arrangements and also to provide important conclusions on the additional reforms that might be required to improve the operation of multi-tiered government in the UK.
A further objective of this research was to identify the resources that contribute to a sub-state authority’s capacity to engage with European policy formulation, both domestically and in the European arena and examine the way in which available resources influence the choice of strategies for engaging that are adopted by different sub-state authorities.
The research analysed the constitution and operation of the formal coordination mechanisms in the comparator countries using documentary sources. To assess the scope and significance of more informal channels, it also involved interviews (both in selected regions in the comparator countries, and in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London) with key officials, including national and regional level civil servants and politicians, as well as party officials involved in internal party coordination between different tiers of government