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European Week of Regions and Cities

The Quality of Regional Democracy and Its Impact on Territorial Cohesion in Europe

Cohesion policy aims to reduce territorial and social disparities between regions in Europe. Regions are key to achieving the objectives of cohesion policy, yet data on the quality of democracy in the regions is lacking. Through the newly established European Regional Democracy Map (, we will reveal the quality of democracy in regions across Europe. Dorothée Alain-Dupré (Head of the Divison for Regional Development and Multi-level Governance, OECD) and Lewis Dijkstra (Head of the Economic Analysis unit in the DG for Regional and Urban Policy) will discuss how regional democracy contributes to the development of cohesion programmes and helps to reduce territorial and social disparities.

Wed 12, October 2022
11:00 - 12:00 CET
Arjan Schakel, Principal Investigator Strengthening Regional Democracy, University of Bergen, Department of Comparative Politics.
Dorothée Allain - Dupré, Head of Division for Regional Development and Multi-Level Governance, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Lewis Dijkstra, Head of the Economic Analysis Sector of the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission.
Sarah Meyer, Principle investigator REGIOPARL, University for Continuing Education Krems, Department for European Policy and the Study of Democracy.
Information session (followed by Q&A)
Territorial Cohesion
Donau University Kreams, University of Bergen (UiB)
English (EN)
Replay – Original Language

Session summary

The discussion during this online event was structured according to three statements, each of which was introduced with a map drawn from the European Regional Democracy Map (ERDM): The audience was then asked to indicate their (dis)agreement with the statement. An expert panel reflected on the statements. 

The expert panel consisted of:

Lewis Dijkstra, Head of the Economic Analysis Sector at the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission

Dorothée Allain-Dupré, Head of the Regional Development and Multilevel Governance Division at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Sarah Meyer, principal investigator of the research project REGIOPARL which studies the role of regional parliaments in Europe

The discussion was moderated by Arjan Schakel who is research professor at the University of Bergen in Norway and the principal investigator of the research project Strengthening Regional Democracy

Statement 1: The extent to which regional parliaments and executives can alleviate territorial inequalities is highly dependent on the authority they have.

There was strong agreement on this statement among the audience members. The expert panel highlighted that regions should not only have sufficient levels of self-rule but there should also be extensive shared rule, i.e. collaboration between regional, local and national governments. 

Statement 2: The divergence in party strength between regions decreases territorial inequalities because parties set different priorities. 

The audience also agreed on this statement. The experts agreed that in addition to the competences and institutions of regions, political factors have a very large impact on whether and how regional governments can help alleviate territorial inequalities. 

Statement 3: Coordination and joint policy-making between European, national, regional and local governments — i.e. multilevel governance — is key for territorial cohesion. 

There was also strong agreement on the final statement among the audience and the members of the expert panel. The experts indicated that regional politicians wanted and actively sought collaboration with other tiers of government. 

Take away message

There is widespread acknowledgement that regional governments are very important for territorial cohesion in Europe but that their potential role is also largely dependent on their competences, institutions and political processes. We are in dire need of more research on when, where and under what conditions regional governments can be instrumental in combatting territorial inequalities.