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Does Autonomy Matter?

Subnational Governments and the Challenge of Vertical Policy Integration for Sustainable Development: A Comparative Analysis of Quebec, Flanders, North Rhine-Westphalia and North Holland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 May 2012

Sander Happaerts*
Affiliation:
HIVA-Research Institute for Work and Society, KU Leuven
*
Sander Happaerts, HIVA–Research Institute for Work and Society, KU Leuven, Parkstraat 47 box 5300, 3000 Leuven, Belgium, sander.happaerts@hiva.kuleuven.be

Abstract

Abstract. Sustainable development needs to be tackled at all governmental levels. Moreover, policies need to be integrated, horizontally and vertically. This article studies the efforts of subnational governments and their strategies towards vertical policy integration. Four cases are compared: Quebec (Canada), Flanders (Belgium), North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and North Holland (the Netherlands). The assumption is that their approaches are determined by their degree of autonomy, which involves their competences within their own borders (self-rule) and their influence on national decision making (shared rule). The findings, however, show that degree of autonomy does not shape the subnational governments' stance towards vertical policy integration for sustainable development. Rather, it is influenced by other factors, such as political dynamics. The analysis also puts forward that the degree of self-rule of subnational governments has a large influence on the content of sustainable development policies, not only at the subnational, but also at the national level.

Résumé. Le développement durable doit être poursuivi à tous les niveaux de pouvoir. En plus, les politiques doivent être intégrées horizontalement et verticalement. Cet article étudie les efforts des gouvernements sous-nationaux et leurs stratégies envers l'intégration politique verticale. Il compare quatre cas d'étude: le Québec (Canada), la Flandre (Belgique), la Rhénanie-du-Nord-Westphalie (Allemagne) et la Hollande Septentrionale (Pays-Bas). L'assomption est que leur approche se détermine par leur degré d'autonomie, qui est constitué par leurs compétences à l'intérieur de leurs propres frontières (self-rule) et par leur pouvoir à influencer la prise de décision nationale (shared rule). Cependant, les résultats démontrent que le degré d'autonomie ne détermine pas la position des gouvernements sous-nationaux envers l'intégration politique verticale pour le développement durable. Leur position est influencée plutôt par d'autres facteurs, tels que le contexte politique. L'analyse propose aussi que le degré de self-rule des gouvernements sous-nationaux a une grande influence sur le contenu des politiques de développement durable, non pas seulement au niveau sous-national, mais aussi au niveau national.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association 2012

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