By 2004 Spanish subnational governments are allowed to participate in some formal meetings of the Council of the European Union as well as in its working groups. For proponents of the multi-level governance approach, a regional presence in the Council provides evidence in support of enhanced subnational participation in EU policy making. For intergovernmentalists, on the contrary, the Spanish case demonstrates that central government still maintains a crucial gatekeeper position since it formally regulates the main aspects of subnational participation. By presenting the results of a case study on the formal participation of the Spanish regions in the Council, the paper agrees that, even in a context of Europeanization, the central state still ultimately retains some veto powers. Nevertheless, the article takes issue with the argument that subnational participation is mainly formal and lacks substantive value. The article provides evidence, on the contrary, that the definition of the joint common position reinforces intrastate relations in EU policy making with a positive net effect for subnational governments. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
- European Union
- Multi-level governance
- Spanish autonomous communities
- subnational governments