The Role of Local Government in Shaping and Influencing International Policy Frameworks
This thesis explores the capacity of local government to influence intergovernmental organizations’ policy frameworks during the formulation and implementation of their instruments and policies. It provides empirical insights into the decision making and implementation of international policy regimes, specifically within a European context, and contributes to the broader theoretical understanding of these regimes through the development of multi-level governance as a framework of analysis. The thesis extends multi-level governance as a theoretical framework in two ways. First, it does so by going beyond its usual development and application within the European Union. The role of local government is examined in the pan-European political context shaped by the Council of Europe. Second, it pays special attention to the upstream link between local authorities and international actors in the context of multi-level governance settings. To date, most research on local government in multi-level governance settings has focused on the new challenges brought by extended multiple tiers of jurisdictions and how local government has been affected by the internationally shaped political arrangements. Little attention has been placed on the upward flow of interaction of local authorities or their capacity to influence international decision making and policy implementation. Empirical research in this thesis has focused on the capacity of local government to share the meta-steering role with the multi-level governance framework. The potential of local government to influence the international policy frameworks has been investigated based on its unique value in enhancing good governance in line with international norms and principles. At the theoretical level, the research argues multi-level governance reflects not simply the redistribution of power resources among various actors, but also the process of reshaping understanding and preferences through direct communication between actors at different territorial levels. It suggests that local political preferences can be shaped and reframed by broader values and consequently generates significant influence on higher level policy outcomes. However, despite the existence of specific constitutional devices for involving local development in the legislative processes of the Council of Europe, empirical evidence shows local authorities have largely failed to take up this opportunity, and their influence remains limited. Implications hence can be drawn for wider utilization of local engagement in intergovernmental organizations; for example, within the context the Committee of the Regions of the Europe Union.
- PhD