Regionalization in the European peripheries: the cases of Northern Norway and Finnish Lapland

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Series Details Vol.11, No.2, Summer 2001, p94-114
Publication Date June 2001
ISSN 1359-7566
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This article examines the nature of the regionalization process in two outlying Nordic regions, Finnish Lapland within and Northern Norway outside the EU. The impact of regionalization on the political peripherality of both regions is examined, as is the impact of European integration on their policy-influencing strategies. Did membership (in the Finnish case) and rejection (in the Norwegian case) produce any difference for the peripheries of these two Northern European regions? The theoretical focus of the analysis centres on the contrasting views, whether a precondition of effective policy influence for EU regions is a close working relationship with the national government. The empirical research concentrates on the principal regional actors, the Regional Authority for Northern Norway (LU) and the Regional Council of Lapland (LL). Norway's double rejection of EU membership has meant that LU's strategic options have been restricted to seeking to reinforce its status as an insider group within the framework of nation-state decision-making. Regionalization has reduced its peripherality to a lesser extent than Lapland, which since 1995 has been an actor within the EU. Thus, Finland's EU accession in 1995 offered LL potentially influential channels of influence beyond the nation-state. The argument put forward is that peripheral regions will struggle to influence EU decisions of major importance to them without the backing of the political centre. Equally, there will also be occasions when peripheries by-pass the state and engage in transnational or Brussels-based lobbying, either as a complementary strategy or as an entirely unilateral action. At times the nation-state will become both a competitor and adversary.

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