In European politics
, a region
is the layer of government directly below the national level. The term is especially used in relation to those regions which have some historical claim to uniqueness or independence, or differ significantly from the rest of the country.
Examples of regions include:
- Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in the UK. The UK has also defined regions of England that are perhaps less culturally well-defined.
- French régions, especially Bretagne, Corsica, Languedoc and others which have been historically culturally distinct.
- Italian regioni which are not just geographic, but adminitrative divisions. The island-regions of Sardinia and Sicily, and also Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino Alto-Adige, Valle d'Aosta have a special autonomous status.
- Spanish comunidades autónomas, especially Catalonia, Basque Country, Galicia and others which have been historically culturally distinct.
- German Länder.
The current historical trend in Europe is for the devolution
of power to the regions from the central authorities. Examples of this trend include the devolution process in Britain (the Scotland Act 1998
, the Government of Wales Act 1998
) and the current negotiations in France concerning increased autonomy for Corsica.
The politics of the regionalism have also had their impact on the pan-European level. The regions of Europe have lobbied for an increased say in EU affairs, especially the German Länder. This has resulted in the creation by the Maastricht treaty of the Committee of the Regions, and provision for member states to be represented in the Council by ministers from their regional governments. The desire of the German Länder however has been frustrated by other member states, which are opposed to direct involvement by the regions in EU decision-making. The German Länder successfully lobbied the German government (which has in turn lobbied the European Council) for the 2004 IGC to deal with the division of powers between the EU, national and regional levels of government.
The Council of Europe also has a Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, similar to the EU's Committee of the Regions.