Participation of Cities in the EU Integration Processes

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-1-93-102

E. Dovbysh, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Abstract. Local authorities have to deal with a large part of practical work in promotion of the European integration project. Today, cities together with other actors are involved in the EU political process. This involvement leads to modification and enrichment of the European political space and increases the viability of supranational institutions. Cities extend the range of available channels for representation of citizens’ interests. Participation of cities in the decision-making improves the quality of these decisions and the legitimacy of supranational institutions, which is especially important in the context of the debate on the democratic deficit in the EU. Cities and other subnational actors can be active at the pan-European level and national levels. They use different "access points" at the European level, such as the Committee of the Regions, the European associations of cities, representations of local authorities in Brussels. The role of cities is especially evident in the Europe 2020, Cohesion Policy and the European Neighborhood Policy. European cities are involved in the elaboration of national reform programs. Cities and their associations can offer their assessments and visions of development to the Commission. Participating in the elaboration of national reform programs cities get a chance to influence the agenda of national development. This can indirectly affect the implementation of the Europe 2020 and dynamics of the European integration process as a whole. The participation of subnational actors – regions and municipalities – is important for realization of the Cohesion Policy objectives. Cities are particularly relevant for this policy, because they can become a ground for social conflicts and unrest. New tools, such as JESSICA and Integrated Territorial Investment, pay significant attention to local level politics in Europe. The European Neighborhood Policy has an important local dimension. There are such city-oriented programs as COMUS, The Covenant of Mayors, CIUDAD and projects of cross-border coordination. Examples show that cooperation between cities is successful, if it is based on the mutual interest in solving common problems. The Treaty of Lisbon has opened new opportunities to cities' participation. European institutions are now obliged to consult with the Committee of Regions on the issues that have a strong effect at the local and regional level. However, the involvement of cities into integration practices of the EU is still limited. This is due to both, the fundamental problem of the EU organizational design, and the lack of effective channels for representing urban interests at the European level.

Keywords: cities, the European Union, integration, political space, new political actors, Europe-2020, Cohesion Policy, the European Neighborhood Policy

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For citation:
Dovbysh E. Participation of Cities in the EU Integration Processes. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2016, vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 93-102.

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