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Devolution and differentiation: regional variation in EU law

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Abstract:

For some years now, there has been a growing orthodoxy in EU legal studies which maintains that the EU project is less about achieving uniformity of laws across the Member States, and more about managing flexibility and differentiation. However, for the most part, space for differentiation is recognised only as between states or groups of states. The present paper moves beyond this level to explore the scope for local differentiation, at a sub-state level. This inquiry has been motivated by the recent Horvath judgment, in which the European Court of Justice was asked whether differential implementation by the devolved administrations of the UK of certain EU law obligations was lawful. The paper places these developments alongside other judicial, legal and political developments, to demonstrate a growing recognition of the role of regions within the EU's multi-levelled system of governance, revealing that the EU order is, in some respects, finally catching up with the realities of the rise of devolution and decentralisation taking place across Europe. However, it is submitted that there is further the EU could and should go in recognising, if not a ‘Europe of the Regions’, then a ‘Europe with the Regions’.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-121X.2010.00164.x

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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