Since 1950, devolution reforms have been widespread across Western Europe, leading to constitutional transformation in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as the potential for state breakup, as witnessed by independence referendums in Scotland and Catalonia. Over the same period, European integration has transferred power upwards to what is now the European Union. The simultaneous occurrence of these seemingly contradictory trends raises fundamental questions. Is state restructuring a uniform process? Has it been fuelled by European integration and, if so, how?
Restructuring the European State uses a comparative analysis to present a systematic investigation of the connections between European integration and state restructuring. Paolo Dardanelli argues that there are two distinct dynamics of state restructuring: “bottom up,” where one or more regions demand self-government; and “top down,” where the central government decides to devolve power. Through quantitative analyses of thirteen key phases of state restructuring in Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom he shows that European integration has a powerful influence only in bottom up cases. Dardanelli points to a striking paradox of integration, whereby an ethos of Europe growing ever closer to union has become associated with fragmentation, divergence, and increased complexity, rather than a seamless system of multilevel governance.
Innovative and rigorously researched, Restructuring the European State marks a major advance in our understanding of contemporary European politics.