Abstract For a few years, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has declared inadmissible, for lack of direct concern, a number of annulment actions initiated by sub‐state actors in the context of regional policy. This article compares
the ECJ's holdings with the General Court's more generous application of the ‘direct concern’ standard in some of the same disputes, and argues in favour of the General Court's approach. The cases hereby analysed pertain to the implementation of structural funds in Southern Italy.
Relating regional policy to the historical unfolding of the ‘Southern Question’, this article examines the unexpected opportunity for civic and administrative renewal brought by regional policy to Italy's South in the late 1990s, and links standing for sub‐state actors to
the long‐term realisation of that opportunity. It further argues that a more direct judicial involvement with territorial policies would prompt taxonomic renewal in EU law as a discipline.