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Local government transnational networking in Europe: a study of 14local authorities in England andFrance

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Local authorities play a key role in European Union (EU) governance. They are no longer simply ‘passive receivers’ of EU policy, but proactively engage at the European level. This active engagement includes participation in local government transnational networking (LGTN), an activity which sees local authorities form links with their counterparts in other countries. The contemporary prevalence of LGTN presents an interesting empirical puzzle. Local authorities lack the formal competence to engage beyond their territories. Furthermore, since the financial crisis councils’ budgets have been restricted. Why, then, are local authorities participating in LGTN when they lack both the formal competence and the financial resources? This thesis tackles this puzzle.In particular it explores three broad questions relating to LGTN:

- What is the extent of LGTN?
- Why do local authorities participate?
-What determines effective participation?

By focusing on the local authorities within transnational networks, this thesis makes an empirical contribution to knowledge and informs a body of literature which has until now overlooked the perceptions of local actors in EU governance. It further informs conceptual debates surrounding multi-level governance and local level Europeanization.This focus is achieved through a cross-national analysis of 14 local authorities in south-east England and northern France, and adopting a qualitative empirical approach which draws data from semi-structured interviews, document analysis and participant observation.
The findings show that LGTN continues to be a prevalent phenomenon and is therefore an important feature of the EU’s multi-level system of governance. However,engagement is not uniform. While all local authorities are involved, variation is present in the number of links councils engage in, the type of networks they target and their motivations for participation. In all cases, however, engagement in LGTN is driven by a rationalist logic, as councils seek to achieve individual pre-determined strategic aims and improve their relative positions. A number of local and external factors are shown to impact how effectively councils engage in LGTN and, ultimately, explains why the process of local level Europeanization is marked by differentiation rather than convergence.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award dateOct 2015

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