The Regional Responsibility for European Integration: Baden-Württemberg (Germany), Lombardia (Italy), Merseyside (UK)

School of Law, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK


A. Introduction: Regional Responsibility for European Integration

In this chapter, I will address the constitutional problem of regional and local participation in EU lawmaking and policymaking from a different perspective. In the previous chapters, I followed the traditional ‘top-down’ approach consisting of looking at the constitutional duty of the EU and of the Member States to facilitate regional and local involvement in the EU lawmaking and policymaking. In this chapter, I will adopt a ‘bottom-up’ approach looking at what the sub-national authorities themselves are constitutionally required to do to perform a role in the EU.1 A useful concept in this context is that of ‘responsibility for European integration’ (Integrationsverantwortung) created by the German Federal Constitutional Court, which refers to the necessary involvement of the national legislative bodies in all the decisions broadening the responsibilities of the EU.2 The scope of the notion of ‘responsibility for European integration’, however, can be further expanded. Martin Nettesheim suggests that this concept ‘implies that the organs of an organisation whose self-rule is limited by supra-state decision-making, must engage in the exercise of supra-state authority in a manner which suits the democratic principle (idea of compensation)’.3 In this way, he widens the scope of the concept both horizontally and vertically. On the one hand, ‘responsibility for integration’ is not limited to the transfer of powers to the EU and comes to embrace potentially the entire spectrum of Union action (horizontal dimension). On the other hand, the ‘responsibility’ is not confined to central organs of the state; it also applies to the Länder, the sub-national level (vertical dimension).

The validity of this submission (that the sub-national authorities have a responsibility for European integration) will be tested in relation to three case studies: Baden-Württemberg (Germany), Lombardia (Italy) and Liverpool City Region (England). Baden-Württemberg is a Land of a typical federal state; Lombardia is a region of a typical regional state; Liverpool City Region is an English combined authority, including Liverpool and a number of other local authorities. These ‘regions’ (in reality, the German Länder regard themselves as ‘states’) are good examples of ‘European regions’, in that Baden-Württemberg and Lombardia are among the most economically developed parts of Europe and among the motors of EU economy. Liverpool City Region is one of the areas of England that has benefited the most from EU funding and, for that reason, is a ‘leader’ in the UK’s atypical system based on devolution (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and local self-government (in England). The analysis of these three case studies will allow a comparison between three different regional pathways to European integration and the identification of the advantages and disadvantages of each model.4

B. Case Study 1: A Multilevel Constitutional Approach to Integration in the EU: Land Baden-Württemberg

Baden-Wurttemberg is one of the 16 federal states (Länder) constituting the Federal Republic of Germany. It is the third largest German Land by population (10.5 million in 2012) after North Rhine-Westphalia (17.5) and Bavaria (12.5). It is the third largest German Land also for GDP (14.33 % of total German 2013 GDP), again after North Rhine-Westphalia (21.91 %) and Bavaria (17.83 %).5 Along with Catalonia, Lombardia and the Rhône-Alpes, it is one of the Four Motors for Europe, a network of four highly industrialised European regions. The strong engagement of the Land Baden-Württemberg in the EU is therefore a consequence of its important economic role within Germany and Europe. The responsibility of Baden-Württemberg for European integration, the right and duty to engage with the EU, however, has a more profound constitutional foundation both on the national level (Grundgesetz) and on the local level (Land Constitution). The second indention of the Preamble to the Grundgesetz (the federal constitution of 1949) says that ‘inspired by the determination to promote world peace as an equal partner in a united Europe’, the German people have adopted the Grundgesetz. The aspiration to the unity of Europe is therefore fundamental in the Grundgesetz. The same aspiration is reflected in the Constitution of the Land Baden-Württemberg of 1953, whose Preamble stipulates that this Land shall be a ‘vital member of the Federal Republic of Germany in a united Europe, whose construction fulfils the federal principles and the principle of subsidiarity’. It shall also actively contribute to the creation of a ‘Europe of the regions’ and to ‘cross-border cooperation’.6 The aspiration to the creation of a united Europe is translated into more operational terms by Article 23 of the Grundgesetz (Europa-Artikel), which also regulates the participation of the Länder in matters concerning the EU.7

The right and duty of the Länder to engage with the EU and, more specifically, to defend the interests stemming from the regional community on the EU level derive in primis from their ‘state quality’ reflected in Article 30 of the Grundgesetz. As established by Article 30, in principle (‘except as otherwise provided or permitted by the Grundgesetz’), ‘the exercise of state powers and the discharge of state functions is a matter for the Länder’.8 A further foundation of their engagement in the EU decision-making processes is identified by Nettesheim in the democratic self-governance of the Länder (cf. Art. 20(1) GG and Art. 79(3) GG). Indeed, the defence of a free and democratic self-governance of the Länder requires that these retain a right to participate in the formulation of EU law and policy.9 Overall, there is a responsibility of the Länder for European integration that requires the Länder to play an active role in the EU, i.e., to actively engage in the EU level. Another element to take into account is that, in a case where a Land infringes an EU obligation (for example, for failure to implement a regulation), it has to bear the financial consequences towards the Bund, i.e., it must pay the fine (cf. Art. 104a(6) GG).10 As a result, also from a practical point of view, it makes sense to involve the Länder in the promulgation of EU law and policy. Arguably, a learning process takes place during the making phase of EU law and policy, and the participation of the Länder in the EU decision-making process is likely to minimise the risk of infringements due to a lack of full understanding of EU legislation. An important task of the Land Representation to the EU is to inform the Land Government about any new EU law/policy development that is relevant to the Land and about the position of the various players, including partners of the Land (for example, the other ‘motors’). In this way, the Land has time to prepare for the implementation of the EU law/policy and/or for working out a position.11

There are two channels through which the Land can play a role in matters concerning the EU: (1) the national route and (2) direct external engagement of the Land in the EU political arena.12

(1) National route—the national route, i.e. the involvement of the Länder in the EU decision-making process via national participation routes, is based on two participation channels: A) the Bundesrat and B) the Landtag (the parliament of the Land).

A) Participation through the Bundesrat13—the Länder shall participate in matters relating to the EU through the Bundesrat. Full and accurate flow of information on EU affairs is therefore key to the pivotal role of the Bundesrat. To this purpose, the Federal Government has to inform the Bundesrat in an exhaustive and timely manner about all matters in which the Länder may have an interest.14 The Bundesrat has to participate in EU affairs in two scenarios: first, when it has the right to intervene on a comparable domestic matter and, second, when an issue on the EU agenda falls within the responsibility of the Länder.15

The weight of the Bundesrat’s opinions concerning EU matters varies in accordance with the topic. The first possible scenario is when the interests of the Länder are affected by an EU proposal falling within the exclusive competence of the Bund (including areas such as defence, air transport, federal railways, etc., cf. Art. 73 GG)16 or falling within the federal legislative power (notably, for example, the concurrent legislative power of the Bund on economic matters, cf. Art. 74(1) No. 11 GG). In such a case, the position of the Bundesrat does not have a binding character and must be only taken into account (berücksichtigt) by the Federal Government. Consequently, the Federal Government may choose to depart from that position, if it deems it appropriate to do so.17

The second possible scenario is when legislative powers of the Länder, the structure of Land authorities or Land administrative procedures are primarily affected (im Schwerpunkt betroffen) by an issue on the EU agenda. In such a case, the position of the Bundesrat acquires a quasi-binding (if not a fully binding) value. The Grundgesetz stipulates that the Federal Government must pay to the position of the Bundesrat the greatest possible respect (maßgeblich zu berücksichtigen).18 It is controversial whether this expression means that the position of the Bundesrat is binding. In practice, only a small minority of the positions of the Bundesrat (about 4 % of the total) are normally regarded as being due the greatest possible respect.19 In principle, the position of the Bundesrat would have to be reflected in the vote cast by Germany in the Council.20 An element that plays a huge role is also the political reality surrounding the negotiations on the EU level. When the position of the Länder is likely to obtain a majority within the Council, the Federal Government will normally defend that position and vote in accordance with it. When, however, the position of the Länder is clearly incapable of obtaining a majority, the Federal Government may decide to take a different, more realistic, approach and depart from that position in exchange for the support of other Member States on a different topic.21

The experience shows that there is normally unanimity between the Länder within the Bundesrat in relation to education. This subject is very controversial internally, within each Land, but when issues concerning education are on the EU agenda, the Länder always manage to find a unitary position to present to the Federal Government. Quite the opposite, protection of the environment and energy policy are topics where it is more difficult to achieve large majorities in the Bundesrat due to the different views of the Länder. An example of successful engagement of the Länder was their ‘pressing’ on the Federal Government in relation to the Europe 2020 targets (Smart Growth), one of which concerns specifically education (reducing the rate of early school leaving below 10 % and having at least 40 % of 30–34-year-olds completing third-level education). The German Länder obtained the inclusion in the final document setting the targets for the single Member States of a target for Germany of 42 % tertiary education by 2020, inclusive of ISCED 4 (International Standard Classification of Education Level 4).

An even more advanced form of participation, at least on paper, is provided for by Article 23(6) GG, which stipulates that when an EU proposal focuses primarily (im Schwerpunkt) on school education, culture or radio/TV broadcasting, which are key matters belonging to the exclusive legislative responsibility of the Länder, the rights of Germany in the relevant EU fora (Council, working groups of the Council, committees of the Commission) are exercised by a representative of the Länder delegated by the Bundesrat.22 For what concerns the Council, such participation relies on Article 16(2) TEU, which allows for the representation of a Member State in the Council by a representative ‘at ministerial level’, including a Minister of a Land, ‘who may commit the government of the Member State in question and cast its vote’. Yet, at least in the Council, this form of external representation of the Länder has remained mainly on paper, having been used only on very few occasions.

At least in theory, the Bundesrat can play a role in the EU decision-making process also through the early warning system. However, the extreme difficulty to achieve the quorum for a yellow or an orange card explains why it does not use this tool very much. For this reason, the Länder prefer to use the political dialogue that has been launched by the Barroso Commission since 2006, albeit only on important issues (for example, the political dialogue on the added value tax directive in 2013).23

B) The role of the Landtag of Baden-Württemberg—in the context of the German executive federalism (Exekutivföderalismus), i.e. of the federal system centred on the pivotal role of the Federal Government and of the governments of the Länder (the members of the Bundesrat are appointed by the Land Governments), the ability of the Landtage (Land parliaments) to have a say on EU affairs is of crucial importance for the democratic legitimacy of the internal EU-related decisional processes. In 2006, the Landtag of Baden-Württemberg created the Europe Committee,24 which is the leading committee for all the EU proposals that are cross-cutting, i.e., which touch upon more than one issue. The Committee performs a merely advisory role to other committees if only one issue, covered by an existing committee of the Landtag, is involved by an EU proposal. If a proposal, for example, is only about agriculture, it will be for the ad hoc Committee to deal with it. Whilst over the half of the EU proposals before the Landtag concern agriculture, the large majority of these are examined by the Europe Committee as the ‘leader’ because they involve more than a single issue. The Europe Committee is also the ‘leader’ on questions concerning the constitutional setting of the EU that affect Baden-Württemberg.25

The Land Minister for the Bundesrat, European and International Affairs (or a state secretary on his behalf) must attend the monthly sessions of the Europe Committee. In this way, it is ensured that the position of the Committee is known to the Minister and that there is permanent dialogue and exchange of information between the Landtag and the Land Government.26

When an EU proposal focuses primarily on an area of exclusive legislative responsibility of the Länder (education, culture, police law, radio/TV broadcasting), the Landtag may impose an imperative mandate on the Land Government. In such a scenario, the Land Government would be bound to follow the position of the Landtag and to defend that position in the Bundesrat, unless the position is in conflict with substantial Land interests. In this way, the democratic legitimacy of the Land (and indirectly of the whole internal, i.e., German) EU-related decision-making activity is enhanced.27

By contrast, the early warning system is an area of democratic legitimacy introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, which, due to practical realities, does not really seem to work in practice, at least in Baden-Württemberg. Six weeks is too little time for a reasoned opinion. The Europe Committee of the Landtag Baden-Württemberg meets once a month. Furthermore, there are summer holidays, bank holidays, etc. As a result, despite the great theoretical importance of the early warning system to promote multilevel-governance-driven cooperation and legitimacy in the EU (cf. supra Chap. 4), the deadlines are too tight for this instrument to work properly.28

The Europe committee can rely on a number of sources of support and expertise. There is a slim support structure with one assistant on a 50 % basis (shared with another committee). There is an advisor for EU affairs whose recommendation the Committee takes and often follows. The Committee can also count on advice from the Land Government, given that the Minister or his representative must participate in the sessions of the Committee. The Committee also has close relations and takes advice from the academia (for example, Tübingen University), but also with research centres (such as the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum in Stuttgart, funded by the Land, the cities of Baden-Württemberg and the EU Commission, and the Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim).

Whilst there is no structured or formal consultation with the local (i.e., sub-regional) authorities (for example, the municipalities) of Baden-Württemberg in relation to EU matters, there is some informal dialogue between these authorities and the Landtag. An area where this type of consultation takes place is, for example, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, which concerns in particular the towns of Ulm and Sigmaringen.29

(2) Direct external engagement of the Land in the EU political arena—there are two main direct participation channels for the Land Baden-Württemberg: A) the representation of the Land by the Land Representation in Brussels (Vertretung des Landes Baden-Württemberg bei der EU) and, but by far less significant, B) the membership of the Committee of the Regions (CoR).

A) Land Representation in Brussels—the Land Baden-Württemberg operates an office (‘Vertretung’, i.e., ‘representation’) in Brussels with over 20 staff working there on a regular basis. The office, which is a department of the State Ministry (Staatsministerium), is key to the mini-foreign policy (kleine Außenpolitik) of the Land. The main role of the office is to carry out lobbying and networking in the interest of the Land.

Like all other German Länder offices in Brussels, the Land Representation is not in the list of lobbyists. Indeed, the mission of the Representation differs from those of lobbying organisations of big companies in that the Representation has the objective of representing the citizens of Baden-Württemberg on the EU level. Companies like, for example, Bosch or others carry out lobbying directly through their offices or through business organisations. They do not normally approach the Land Representation, though they may occasionally do so. Sometimes the interests of large companies from Baden-Württemberg and of the Representation collide. For example, the recent discussion around rules on car air-conditioning sees Bosch on one side and the Land Baden-Württemberg (ruled by a red–green coalition) on the other, along with organisations such as Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups.30

The lobbying activity of the Land Representation must reflect the general interest of the people of Baden-Württemberg, which is represented in the Landtag. To this purpose, the Landtag has one person at the Land Representation with the task of monitoring the activity of the Representation and of passing relevant information onto the Landtag. Also, members of the Landtag try to visit the Representation more and more often by taking part in travels (for example, visits to members of the Commission) and receptions in Brussels. However, the Landtag controls the Land Government, rather than directly and immediately the lobbying activity performed in Brussels. It is a control on the general direction of the Land in its relations with the EU, which is part of the general Landtag–Land Government relationship. The line manager by law for the Director of the Representation is the State Secretary General Manager. However, in practice, politically, the Director reports to the Minister of European Affairs. The Minister, in turn, gives instructions to the Director and, in particular, indicates the political priorities (i.e., for example, which European proposals need to be prioritised for lobbying purposes, etc.). The Minister ultimately reports to the Landtag. An important avenue of control for the Landtag lies in approval of the budget. By controlling the budget, the Landtag in fact decides on the allocation of resources to the Representation, and in this way it exercises considerable control on that department.

The Land Representation always uses multiple channels to lobby the institutions in the interest of the Land. One very important channel is the Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU, which has over 250 staff. Communication with this staff is essential because the German vote in the Council is cast by a Federal Government representative (with the very limited exception, which is more on paper than in real life, of Article 23(6) GG). Another key channel is direct contact with the Commission, especially Directors General and members of the Directorates General, especially if they are from Germany or from partner regions, such as the Four Motors or the Danube Macro-Region. To this purpose, the Land Representation organises receptions, events, etc., on a regular basis. These offer opportunities to meet with the relevant policymakers and to speak to them informally.31 Last but not least, particularly in the post-Lisbon Treaty era, MEPs have become a very important channel. It is of key importance for the Land Representation to speak to rapporteurs and their staff, as well as to the chair of relevant EP committees, speakers and coordinators. Political allegiance (right/left) and nationality do not play a large role in the creation of coalitions. What really matters to the Representation is the position of a MEP on the issue at hand. The Director of the Land Representation regularly attends the meetings of the MEPs and of the European political parties irrespective of their political identity (left/right, etc.).

Whilst making the EU more local by helping to adjust EU policies to local needs, lobbying also raises a serious legitimacy problem, given that probably not all the Länder are necessarily able to spend the same amount of resources on lobbying as the Land Baden-Württemberg. This situation could favour richer and bigger Länder, like Baden-Württemberg vis-à-vis other (smaller and poorer) Länder. Whilst this theoretical legitimacy problem exists, in practice quite often the Länder lobby on different issues, which rules out competition. For example, Bremen (which is a small Land facing financial difficulties) is likely to lobby on issues concerning shipbuilding industry, which are irrelevant to Baden-Württemberg. Still, there might be fierce competition between the Länder for funding from the Commission. However, even there, whilst other Länder’s bids may aim to convert the economy or to promote rural development (this is, for example, the case of Bavaria), the bids of Baden-Württemberg aim to reach different objectives (for example, enhancing the quality of products, promoting cooperation, etc.).

As to networking with other regional players, five or six times a year there is a meeting with the representations of the other German Länder and with the German Permanent Representation to the EU. This meeting is designed to facilitate the exchange of information and of best practice, rather than for the development of a common German-wide strategy, which would be in conflict with the very idea of federal autonomy of the Länder. There are working groups on various issues constituted by members of the different Länder. Baden-Württemberg is also a member of the Conference of European Regions with Legislative Power (REGLEG), a network including 73 regions from 8 Member States, of the 4 Motors for Europe (along with Catalonia, Lombardia and the Rhône-Alpes), and of the Danube Region, a macro-regional network involving 14 states.

B) CoR—Germany has 24 Members and 24 Alternates in the CoR. Each Land has at least one Member and an Alternate.32 At present, Baden-Württemberg holds only one seat in the CoR.33 This is a very limited representation, considering that Baden-Württemberg is bigger, both in terms of territory and of population, than some Member States. However, membership in the CoR does not seem to be of key strategic importance for Baden-Württemberg. Despite anecdotal evidence that the Commission and the other institutions take its opinions seriously, this general lack of interest on the part of the Land is due to the current lack of decisional power of the CoR (which is a merely advisory body). The CoR is mainly seen as a useful forum for networking, for exchange of information and knowledge, as well as for creating coalitions with other sub-national authorities from across the EU.34

Since 2012, there is another participation channel that is available to the EU citizens and, indirectly, to the sub-national players, including the German Länder. This is the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). In 2013, the Land Baden-Württemberg played a key role in promoting the first successful ECI calling on the Commission to ensure affordable and non-privatised access to water for all EU citizens (Right2Water).

C. Case Study 2: Integration in the EU Through the Involvement of the ‘System-Lombardia’ in the EU Decision-Making

Like for Baden-Württemberg in Germany, also the position of Lombardia in the context of Italy is prominent due to a number of factors, including geographical location in the middle of Europe, size of the population (nearly ten million, one-sixth of the overall Italian population) and size of the economy (nearly a quarter of the overall Italian GDP).35 The participation in EU integration and decision-making is established as a duty of the Italian Region Lombardia in the regional Statute of autonomy (regional constitution).36 In this way, the ‘responsibility for EU integration’ becomes a part of the institutional mission of the Region. This regional responsibility for EU integration is also embedded in the national Constitution in Article 117(5) (‘The Regions …, in the areas that fall within their responsibilities, take part in preparatory decision-making process of EU legislative acts’). At the same time, like the German Länder, the Italian Regions are responsible for the implementation and execution of Union measures in the fields falling within the regional remit (cf. Art. 117(5), final part, which specifies that the State can exercise substitute powers in the case of non-performance by the Region37). It is therefore of key importance to ensure that the regional level is given a say in relation to legal rules that are to be implemented within the regional territory and that may have a huge impact on the economy of this territory.

There are two channels through which the Lombardia Region can play a role in matters concerning the EU: (1) the national route, which is, however, quite weak if compared to the German model, and (2) direct external engagement in the EU political arena.38

(1) National route—the national route, i.e. the contribution to the preparation of the national position in EU decision-making fora, is based on the following channels: A) participation of the Regions in national consultation fora (State-Regions Conference and Comitato interministeriale per gli affari europei) and, in particular, through the B) Regional Council (the regional parliament).

A) Participation in national consultation fora—the Italian Regions may request the submission to the State-Regions Conference (Conferenza Stato-Regioni) of any EU proposal touching upon matters falling within their legislative responsibility.39 The State-Regions Conference is a political body bringing the national and the regional governments around a table for discussion and negotiation of issues relevant to the regional level.40 However, apart from healthcare, which is a field where the Regions are vested with important responsibilities and which has a huge impact on public expenditures, this body does not play a key role in determining the national position of Italy in the EU. Furthermore, the national government is not bound to adopt the regional position, not even in areas falling within the regional legislative remit.

A delegate nominated by the Regions takes part in the meetings of the Comitato interministeriale per gli affari europei (CIAE, Interdepartmental Committee for European Affairs) when the issues on the agenda are of interest for (i.e., do not necessarily fall within the legislative responsibility of) the Regions. This body discusses EU affairs with the aim of deciding the position of Italy on the EU level. However, like in the State-Regions Conference, the State Government is not bound to take account of the regional views, not even if it is an area of regional legislative responsibility.41 Yet both the State-Regions Conference and CIAE can contribute legitimacy to the Italian involvement in the EU, if and to the extent that the regional voices are taken duly into account in the formulation of the Italian position in EU decision-making fora.

B) The role of the Regional Council of Lombardia42—full legitimacy of participation in the EU decision-making process requires that due account is taken of the prerogatives of democratically representative bodies within regions. Like for the Landtage in Germany, and particularly for Baden-Württemberg, the role of the Regional Council of Lombardia in the EU decision-making process is protected by law. The Regional Council shall pass an annual resolution by the end of January each year evaluating the annual Work Programme of the EU Commission and laying down the guidelines for the action of the Regional Executive in the EU.43 In addition, the Regional Council can pass a resolution laying down instructions for the Regional Executive concerning the position of Lombardia in relation to a certain EU proposal. In this way, the direction of the engagement of Lombardia with the EU is put under the influence and control of the Regional Council.

The Council may even require that an EU proposal is put on the agenda of the State-Regions Conference, where this will be discussed with the aim to reach a mutually acceptable common position for Italy on the EU level.44 In this way, the regional parliament is granted a say on the working of a body that includes only the representatives of the regional governments. However, as previously explained, the State-Regions Conference has not been able so far to play a key role in determining the Italian position in the EU.

The Regional Council carries out a scrutiny of subsidiarity of EU proposals relevant to the Region and can require the Regional Executive to take action accordingly in the national and EU cooperation fora open to the Region.45 The Lombardia model emancipates the engagement of the Region with subsidiarity concerns from consultation of the Regional Council by the national Parliament. The Regional Council itself takes the initiative to adopt a resolution on subsidiarity and communicates the resolution to the Regional Executive, the national Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the Conference of the Presidents of the Legislative Assemblies of the Italian Regions and of the Autonomous Provinces. In addition, the Regional Council of Lombardia, like any other regional parliament with legislative power, ‘can’ also be consulted by each Chamber of Parliament in the context of the early warning system.46 However, until recently, this tool has not produced any impact on the work of the Lombardia Regional Council. The Regional Council passed the first resolution expressing subsidiarity concerns in relation to the proposal of a Regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products.47

The Lombardia Region also promotes the involvement of the Municipalities, of other local authorities and of other public and private entities in EU activity by informing them about Union law and policy and by facilitating their participation in EU programmes and projects.48 For example, an important task of the Delegation of the Region Lombardia to the EU is to inform regional stakeholders and potential bidders from the regional territory (companies, etc.) about EU funding opportunities.

(2) Direct external engagement in the EU political arena—there are a few direct participation channels for Lombardia: A) the representation of the Region by the Delegation to Brussels, B) the appointment of regional experts to working groups of the Council and committees of the Commission and, but like for Baden-Württemberg by far less significant, C) the Committee of the Regions (CoR).

A) Regional Delegation to Brussels—since 1998, Lombardia has an office in Brussels (Delegazione). The mission of the office is to strengthen the coordination between the policies of the Region and those of the EU. The Delegation aims to represent and promote the ‘System-Lombardia’ on the EU level. The concept of ‘System-Lombardia’ is designed to mean a synergy of regional players, including the stakeholders from the regional territory, aimed to facilitate involvement in EU affairs and to build a coordinated engagement with the EU.49 The role of the Delegation is to represent the interests stemming from the regional territory, rather than the Region as an abstract entity and to make sure that Lombardia works as a ‘system’. To this purpose, the Delegation offers support to regional stakeholders in order to improve their performance in Brussels. In this context, the lobbying activity of the Delegation has to be understood as lobbying for the regional territory. For example, in relation to renewable sources of energy in Lombardia, due to the intensive agriculture and the presence of livestock in the Pianura Padana, there is an interest in investments on energy production from biomasses. The task of the office is to lobby the Commission and the other institutions to obtain the provision of some EU funding for this type of renewable energy. Another example is Horizon 2020. The delegation convened an informal discussion table in Milan inviting all the regional stakeholders. Following from that, a common position was developed, and it was played on various tables in Brussels (as a regional actor, as a private association of lobbyists, as a state, etc.). Since on many issues there are diverging views among the stakeholders, the role of the Delegation is to identify elements that are common to all of them (or at least to as a large as possible coalition) and then to find allies (companies, Member States, other regions, etc.) on the EU level.50

The lobbying activity of the Delegation is addressed to the Commission (especially after the Treaty of Lisbon), the MEPs (especially, albeit not exclusively, those who are from Lombardia, irrespective of political allegiance51) and the Permanent Representation of Italy to the EU. Working with the Permanent Representation, in particular, is of key importance, given that the national government, not the sub-national players, has the right to vote in the Council. State-Regions coordination, i.e. the search for a common position to be upheld in the Council, takes place in Brussels more than in Rome. Often the State-Regions dialogue needs to involve only some Regions or even only one (for example, if the issue on the agenda concerns a particular cultivation that takes place in a few Regions, only these will be invited to the table).

B) The participation of Lombardia in the EU decision-making process takes place also through the appointment of regional experts taking part in the national delegations involved in the activity of the working groups and committees of the Council and of the Commission (Comitology).52 The regional representative becomes a component of the Italian delegation to the EU, and in this way he can contribute to formulate the national position in EU decision-making fora. The limitation of this mechanism is that the regional expert must teamwork with the national delegation. He cannot take a separate and/or different stance in case of an irreconcilable disagreement with the national government. Working with the government and getting the government on its side are therefore essential for the Region. This is required by the need to guarantee the unitary position of the Italian Republic, which is an expression of the duty for Italy to speak with a single voice in the EU political arena.53
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