Skip to main content Accessibility help

European integration, party strategies, and state restructuring: a comparative analysis

  • Paolo Dardanelli (a1)


To what extent and in what way does European integration fuel state restructuring? This is a long-standing but still not a fully answered question. While the theoretical literature suggests a positive link between the two, previous empirical studies have reached contrasting conclusions. The article offers an alternative testing of the proposition, centred on the role of party strategies as a causal mechanism, analysed across space and time. On the cross-sectional axis, it focusses on parties in Flanders and Wallonia (Belgium), Lombardy and Sicily (Italy), Catalonia and Andalusia (Spain), and Scotland and Wales (United Kingdom). On the cross-temporal axis, it focuses on four critical junctures connecting integration and state restructuring. It analyses the degree to which ‘Europe’ has been strategically used in connection to state restructuring and which conditions have been necessary and/or sufficient to that outcome. The analysis has been conducted on the basis of a Qualitative Comparative Analysis methodology. Five main results emerge: (1) overall, parties have generally exploited ‘Europe’ in connection with state restructuring to a limited extent only but in a few cases exploitation has been very intense and intimately linked to strategic turning points; (2) ‘Europe’ has overwhelmingly been used to support state restructuring; (3) the most intense use has been made by regional parties with a secessionist position and positive attitude to the EU; (4) ‘use of Europe’ is a product of a complex conjunctural effect of several conditions; (5) it has increased over time but is not a linear product of integration, a sharp drop can be observed between the two most recent time points. These findings show that European integration can indeed exercise causal influence upon state restructuring via party strategies but that this is highly contingent on the complex interaction of multiple factors.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Alesina, A. Spolaore, E. (1997), ‘On the number and size of nations’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics 112(4): 10271056.
Alesina, A. Spolaore, E. (2003), The Size of Nations, Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Alesina, A., Spolaore, E. Wacziarg, R. (2000), ‘Economic integration and political disintegration’, The American Economic Review 90(5): 12761296.
Alonso, S. (2012), Challenging the State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Anderson, J. (1991), ‘Skeptical reflections on a Europe of regions: Britain, Germany, and the ERDF’, Journal of Public Policy 10(4): 417447.
Anderson, J. Goodman, J. (1995), ‘Regions, states and the European Union: modernist reaction or postmodern adaptation?, Review of International Political Economy 2(4): 600631.
Bartolini, S. (2005), Restructuring Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Baskaran, T. (2010), ‘Supranational integration and national reorganization: on the Maastricht Treaty's impact on fiscal decentralization in EU countries’, Constitutional Political Economy 21(4): 309335.
Birch, A. (1978), ‘Minority nationalist movements and theories of political integration’, World Politics 30(3): 325344.
Bogdanor, V. (1999), Devolution in the United Kingdom, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bolton, P. Roland, G. (1997), ‘The breakup of nations: a political economy analysis’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 112(4): 10571090.
Börzel, T. (2002), States and Regions in the European Union – Institutional Adaptation in Germany and Spain, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Breuning, M. Ishiyama, J. (1998), ‘The rhetoric of nationalism: rhetorical strategies of the Volksunie and Vlaams Blok in Belgium, 1991–1995’, Political Communication 15(1): 526.
Budge, I. (2001), ‘Theory and measurement of party policy positions’, in I. Budge, H.-D. Klingemann, A. Volkens, J. Bara and E. Tanenbaum (eds), Mapping Policy Preferences, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 7590.
Budge, I., Klingemann, H.-D., Volkens, A., Bara, J. Tanenbaum, E. (2001), Mapping Policy Preferences, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Caramani, D. (2004), The Nationalization of Politics – The Formation of National Electorates and Party Systems in Western Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cotta, M. Verzichelli, L. (2007), Political Institutions in Italy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cowles, M.G., Caporaso, J. Risse, T. (2001), Transforming Europe: Europeanization and Domestic Change, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Dardanelli, P. (2009), ‘Europeanization as heresthetics – party competition over self-government for Scotland, 1974–97’, Party Politics 15(1): 4968.
Deschouwer, K. (2009), The Politics of Belgium, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
De Winter, L. Gomez-Reino Cachafeiro, M. (2002), ‘European integration and ethnoregionalist parties’, Party Politics 8(4): 483503.
Dinan, D. (2010), Ever Closer Union, 4th edn., Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Elias, A. (2009), Minority Nationalist Parties and European Integration, Abingdon: Routledge.
Featherstone, K. Radaelli, C. (eds) (2003), The Politics of Europeanization, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Feld, W. (1975), ‘Subnational Regionalism and the European Community’, Orbis 18(4): 11761192.
Fraeys, W. (1969), ‘Les élections du 31 mars 1968’, Res Publica 11(1): 271292.
Garrett, G. Rodden, J. (2003), ‘Globalization and fiscal decentralization’, in M. Kahler and D. Lake (eds), Governance in a Global Economy, Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press, pp. 87109.
Goertz, G. (2003), ‘The substantive importance of necessary conditions hypotheses’, in G. Goertz and H. Starr (eds), Necessary Conditions, Lenham, MD, USA: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 6594.
Goertz, G. Starr, H. (2003), ‘Introduction: necessary condition logics, research design, and theory’, in Idem (ed.), Necessary Conditions, Lanham, MD, USA: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 123.
Gunther, R. Montero, J.R. (2009), The Politics of Spain, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hepburn, E. (2010), Using Europe, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Hix, S. Goetz, K. (2000), ‘Introduction: European integration and national political systems’, West European Politics 23(4): 126.
Hooghe, L. (1996), ‘Building a Europe with the regions: the changing role of the European commission’, in Idem (ed.), Cohesion Policy and European Integration, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 89126.
Hooghe, L. Marks, G. (2001), Multi-Level Governance and European Integration, Lanham, MD, USA: Rowman & Littlefield.
Hooghe, L., Schakel, A. Marks, G. (2008), ‘Appendix B: country and regional scores’, Regional and Federal Studies 18(2–3): 259274.
Jolly, S.K. (2007), ‘The Europhile fringe? Regionalist party support for European integration’, European Union Politics 8(1): 109130.
Jones, B. (1995), ‘Conclusion’, in B. Jones and M. Keating (eds), The European Union and the Regions, Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 289296.
Keating, M. (1995), ‘Europeanism and regionalism’, in B. Jones and M. Keating (eds), The European Union and the Regions, Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 122.
Keating, M. (2001), Plurinational Democracy – Stateless Nations in a Post-sovereignty Era, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kellas, J. (1991), ‘European Integration and the Regions’, Parliamentary Affairs 44(2): 226239.
Ladrech, R. (1994), ‘Europeanization of domestic politics and institutions: the case of France’, Journal of Common Market Studies 32(1): 6998.
Ladrech, R. (2010), Europeanization and National Politics, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Laible, J. (2008), Separatism and Sovereignty in the New Europe, New York, NY, USA: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lecours, A. (2000), ‘Ethnonationalism in the West: a theoretical exploration’, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 6(1): 103124.
Loughlin, J. (1996), ‘“Europe of the Regions” and the federalization of Europe’, Publius 26(4): 141162.
Lynch, P. (1996), Minority Nationalism and European Integration, Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Marks, G. (1993), ‘Structural policy and multilevel governance in the EC’, in A. Cafruny and G. Rosenthal (eds), The State of the European Community, Vol. 2, Boulder, CO, USA: Lynne Rienner, pp. 391410.
Marks, G., Hooghe, L. Schakel, A. (2008), ‘Patterns of regional authority’, Regional and Federal Studies 18(2–3): 167181.
Marx, A. Dusa, A. (2011), ‘Crisp-set qualitative comparative analysis (csQCA), contradictions and consistency benchmarks for model specification’, Methodological Innovations Online 6(2): 103148.
Massetti, E. (2009), ‘Explaining regionalist party positioning in a multi-dimensional ideological space: a framework for analysis’, Regional and Federal Studies 19(4): 501531.
Meadwell, H. Martin, P. (1996), ‘Economic integration and the politics of independence’, Nations and Nationalism 2(1): 6787.
Meguid, B. (2008), Party Competition between Unequals – Strategies and Electoral Fortunes in Western Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mitchell, J. (2009), Devolution in the UK, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Newman, S. (1996), Ethnoregional Conflict in Democracies: Mostly Ballots, Rarely Bullets, Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press.
Ragin, C. (2008), Redesigning Social Inquiry, Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press.
Ragin, C., Drass, K. Davey, S. (2006), Fuzzy-Set/Qualitative Comparative Analysis 2.0, Tucson, AZ, USA: Department of Sociology, University of Arizona.
Rudolph, J. (1977), ‘Ethnic sub-states and the emergent politics of tri-level interaction in Western Europe’, Western Political Quarterly 30(4): 537557.
Scheinman, L. (1977), ‘The interfaces of regionalism in Western Europe: Brussels and the Peripheries’, in M. Esman (ed.), Ethnic Conflict in the Western World, Ithaca, NY, USA: Cornell University Press, pp. 6578.
Sharpe, L.J. (1979), ‘Decentralist trends in Western democracies: a first appraisal’, in Idem (ed.), Decentralist Trends in Western Democracies, London: Sage, pp. 979.
Sorens, J. (2004), ‘Globalization, secessionism, and autonomy’, Electoral Studies 23(4): 727752.
Sorens, J. (2009), ‘The partisan logic of decentralization in Europe’, Regional and Federal Studies 19(2): 255272.
Stegarescu, D. (2004), Economic Integration and Fiscal Decentralization: Evidence from OECD Countries, Discussion paper No. 04-86, Mannheim: Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung.
Van Houten, P. (2003), ‘Globalization and demands for regional autonomy in Europe’, in M. Kahler and D. Lake (eds), Governance in a Global Economy, Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press, pp. 110135.
Wolfe, J. (1976), ‘Constitutional devolution and functionalist community-building: inverse trends in European politics’, The Southern Quarterly 14(3): 215229.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Dardanelli Supplementary Material

 Word (296 KB)
296 KB

European integration, party strategies, and state restructuring: a comparative analysis

  • Paolo Dardanelli (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.