Regional public affairs activities in The Netherlands: how to gain ground in the national and European arena

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Series Details Vol.25, No.1, January 2018, p24-39
Publication Date January 2018
ISSN 0969-7764
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The role of regional authorities is undeniably increasing in Europe. Due to increasing regionalism efforts within European Union (EU) member states and to the fact that EU legislation is affecting subnational authorities more and more directly, these authorities are not only striving for influence in the national arena, but in the European arena as well.

The primary task of a public affairs (PA) practitioner working for a regional government in the EU is placing regional interests on national and European political agendas. However, since regional PA is a rather young discipline, opposite to PA in the private sector and in national government, much is unknown about the way regional PA practitioners are operating in the national and European political arenas, and how these arenas are receiving the subnational PA practitioners.

In this study, 41 Dutch PA practitioners and PA receivers were interviewed about their opinions on and experiences with regional PA in both arenas: What are the relevant characteristics of these arenas for regional PA activities, and how are regional PA practitioners managing arena characteristics? The results show that at the national level, it is a struggle to find recognition for regional issues, due to dominant high-profiled regions, centralisation tendencies at the national level and a more general non-subnational attitude. At the European level, regional issues are more welcome, but regional PA practitioners have to overcome the dominant national interests of member states.

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