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Experimentalist governance beyond European Territorial Cooperation and cohesion policy: macro-regional strategies of the European Union (EU) as emerging ‘regional institutions'?


Jörg Mirtl


Since 2009, the European Union (EU) has started to 'experiment' with new forms of territorial governance: Macro-regional strategies (MRS), such as the one for Baltic Sea Region, seek to mobilize a variety of actors and have resulted in a complex and dynamic governance architecture which can be conceived as a new 'regional institution' disposing of some form of authority and autonomy. We show that EU MRS are best conceived as test-bed for intergovernmentalizing cohesion policy - as well as its European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) objective - in a functional region, locking in previously established formats of regional cooperation and thereby going beyond cohesion policy and ETC. Thus, this paper identifies EU MRS as instances of experimentalist governance albeit still falling short on monitoring and evaluation of implementation. This weakness may ultimately jeopardize the macro-regional experiment altogether and, consequently, the development and consolidation of 'regional institutions' of the EU.