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Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law




The European Union (EL is 'gomg local"by taking decentralization ofpower seriously in order to create greater effectiveness for European law and policy especially with respect to its economic development or cohesion policy strategies. In this vein, the Treaty of Lisbon has modified the subsidiarityprnciplen ow includig a "regionala nd local" dinension while offerng new legal and political safeguards to protect subnational actors from the reach of EU law However, in EU cohesion policy cities, regions, and Lander in the different Member States are 'lumped together' into a third-level Europe that does not differentiate among these subnational actors. In addition, despite the attempt to connect Europe to its subnational level to enhance local autonomy and tenitorial cohesion, European courts do not always recognize the local level as independent from their Member State. As a result, EU cohesion policies attempting to narrow the welfare inbalances among European regions are not temitonally attuned flexible enough, or equipped with accountability mechanisms capable to address the development problems they are designed to solve. Scholars have shed light on the invisibility of local actors by proposing to strengthen their "input legitimacy" (process and participation) through greater representation before EU decisionmaking processes or European courts. By focusing on EU-wide procedures instead of understanding how differnt legal and geographical factors charactenze each tenitory EUscholars have reframed from addresshig whether increasing decentralization is accomplishing the desired development goals and inproving the "output legitimacy" (effectiveness of rgulation) of EU institutions.' This Article instead offeis a 'thick" descrption of EU cohesion policies aimed at creating economic development and tenitorial cohesion by disbursing EUfunding to the European peripheries. Rather than assessing if these policies enhance local autonomy and decentralization through EU-local cooperation, I demonstrate that oflen they foster centralization and produce new conflicts among heterogeneous subnational actors, Member States, and the EU Through a textured account of local power in Germany Greece, and Italy I suggest that a more contextualized and needs-based approach to cohesion policies, which acknowledges tenitonal and socio-economic disparities in each region, would anticipate and evade the shortcomings of curaent EU cohesion policy This Article departs from notions of local autonomy and decentralization of power to iprove the "nput legitimacy" of EU institutions by suggesting that the findings on cohesion policy-the need to pay greater attention to local heterogeneity and to create accountability mechanisms to monitor disbursement policies-are important lessons about local governance in the EU that should "travel" to other regulatory areas.



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