Beyond conditionality? Regions from the new EU Member States and their activities in Brussels


Even before the 2004 European Union (EU) enlargement, regional authorities from Poland and the Czech Republic began establishing regional representative offices in Brussels alongside their counterparts from ‘old’ member states. Today, only a handful of regions from these new member states have not opened some form of representative bureau in the city. As informal institutions, regional representations never formed any part of EU ‘conditionality’ on accession; however, by drawing on the experience of regions from the EU15, through a process of ‘lesson-drawing’ institutional import, the new regional actors in Poland and the Czech Republic have moved to adopt this model of regional engagement. This article finds that the motivations for opening these offices come from the regions themselves, with encouragement from partner regions across the EU (‘bottom up’ impetus) rather than being promoted by Commission incentives or national governments’ encouragement (‘top down’ impetus). This highlights the fundamental importance of a Brussels presence within any region’s strategy of engaging with Europe.



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