The French Experience in
Regional Decentralization within the
reformation of the French administrative system in the direction of
regionalisation started in 1982 as a litigious issue having been often
perceveid as a threat to the unitary state and, consequently, as contrary to
constitutional provisions. These fears have meanwhile proved to be groundless:
while federalism and regionalism are incompatible with the constitution and do
not enjoy the support of any significant political party, the regions have
nevertheless gained importance, through their relative financial autonomy, in
the decision making in certain areas as education and territorial planning.
is no other country in Europe where the emergence of the nation is so closely
related to the birth of the state. Regionalism and federalism have been
supported in France’s history by movements opposed to the Republic (the founder
of the modern France). Regions here are not the expression of regional
identities liable to lead to regionalist claims, but the expression of the
necessity of smooth administration of the state territory — the regional
borders were set up in 1955 by central decision, without consulting the local
the nature and the role of regions are still matters of contention in Europe,
the French regional decentralization emerges as a new model, alternative to
federalism and regionalism.
Kassimatis – P. Lazaratos
The Legal and Institutional Status of the
Regions in Greece
a brief terminological clarification where the descentralization of the Greek
administrative system is described as rather a result of a process of
deconcentration, and also as different from the German model since „Regional
state authorities have general competences in solving the issues of their
regions. Central administration have, apart from their special competences, the
competence and the responsibility of coordinating and supervising the regional
authorities”, the study outlines the historical background of descentralized
system in Greece.
of the oldest decentralized entities within the country has been the prefecture
(Nomos), its structure having much in common with its French counterpart and
its head being not elected, but appointed. A law issued in 1994 changed both
the prefecture’s and the prefect’s status, turning the former into a
self-governed entity, and the latter into an official who is no longer
appointed, but elected for a four-year term.
prefecture was also the entity which rendered two attempts at regionalization
irrelevant because the prefect’s competences often overlapped the competences
of the region’s governor generating thus confusion.
new attempt at regionalization through the successive 1986, 1987, 1994 laws
were aimed at „coordinating, planning and programming of the regional
development” and gradually distinguished between the firs level of
self-governance (towns and villages) and the second level of self-governance,
the former’s official heads not being included into the latter’s structure (the
regional council). The regional level of self-governance has financial
competences which include direct cooperation with the European Union.
the novelty of the new administrative structure, it is still difficult to
predict its evolution, its success or failure.
Kleinfeld – Theo A.J. Toonen
Political, Institutional and Legal
Aspects of the Regions
in the Netherlands
in the sense of a governmental structure with a distinct constitutional status
do not exist in the Netherlands, the notion itself being still unsettled. At
first sight, provinces would be the entities to fit best the definition of a
region, but, in fact, they are by far the least important level of government.
principle of the decentralized unitary state still form the basic formula for
Dutch public administration. It contains three elements: the concept of unitary
state, the concept of decentralization, and the concept of co-governance.
Central government, provinces and municipalities form the three administrative
layers; the central government sets national policy while the provincial and
the municipal authorities may supply additional service if these have not been
provided for by central government. For a long time policy implementation took
place in a two-level-system with the central government creating the legal and
financial frame and the municipalities acting as the most important
implementation agencies. The place and function of the provinces gradually
became of higher importance when planning and coordination became a more
prominent precondition in the policy-making process. Provinces got more and
more involved in those tasks that had a scale larger than the abilities of the
single municipality and that were at the same time smaller than the needs of
nation-wide coordinated action.
emerging European structures may be a factor of reinforcing the provinces and
municipalities’ position within the Dutch administrative system.
The Nation and The National State in
View of the European Union
present political world order, having its inception in the Renaissance and its
peak in the formation of national states, is challenged by the economic globalization
which renders state borders and sovereignty more fluid. Nevertheless, in
Europe, for instance, the political scene, while theoretically unanimous on the
necesssity of European unification, practically displays hesitation,
controversies, and lack of will.
states are now challenged both by the growing interdependence in the social,
economical, political, and military fields, and by the autonomy claims of the
collective or/and regional identities they contain. It is supposed that nation
states will carry on their integration into larger structures, and will, complemetarily, give
away a great part of their competences to the entities within.
the emergence of nation states brought about the endeavour to level the
diversity of identities, the processes now under way are aimed at preserving
and encouraging otherness. The peaceful coexistence of different identities is
better served by federal mechanisms which provide the proper framework for
striking a balance between (supranational) unity and (subnational) diversity.
The difficulties arise when considering the actual construction of such a
European mechanism — different countries are differently structured, falling
into three not so distinct categories representing as many stages of adequateness
to federal structure: federal states (Germany, Switzerland), states which have
undergone a devolutionary process (Great Britain, Spain), and decentralized
unitary states (France, the Netherlands).
The Failed Province
has continuously been re-written to legitimize the present; the reference point
for the history of Romania is its birth in 1918 through the union of the
Kingdom of Romania with the provinces of Transylvania and Bessarabia. The Union
acquired from the very beginning a mythical aura and maintained it even during
the communist regime which imprisoned the central figures of the Union’s
spite of its aura, the event proves, at a closer and unprejudiced look, to not
have been so smooth as described in history handbooks or in festive speeches.
The Great Union (as it is usually referred to) was perceived by the central
government in Bucharest rather as an annexation — epitomized in the formulae of
“Transylvania without Transylvanians” and of ”guests in their own home”. The
latter one internalized by the Transylvanians themselves among whom many still
fear they might be given away.
since 1918 have there been conceived policies to bridge these gaps:
marginalized before 1918 within the Dual Monarchy, Transylvania has hoped to
find a more suitable place within Romania (and the province has been, at least
partially, entitled to crave for an equal footing since it has always been
closer to European values than any other Romanian province), but, instead, she turned
into a disappointed, then a failed province. To this contributed the arrogance
of the center as well as Transylvanians’ clumsiness in politics and their
wasting of its religious difference (the history of the Romanian Greek-Catholic
Church which, unlike Orthodoxism, reconnected Romanians to the Latin family of
peoples, has been one of martyrdom).
is now Transylvania’s turn to ”conquer” Romania for the progress of both of
Romania in a „Europe of Regions”
existed in the history of Europe long before the idea of a „Europe of Regions”,
but they were eclipsed by the nation states which, as such, are now unable to
cope with the challenges of integration. Therefore, nation states are compelled
to consider giving away some of their sovereignty, both upwards (to European
institutions) and downwards (to the regions within).
reappraisal of the concept of region should take into account two related
facts: European integration and economical globalisation, the former being, to
a great degree, a response to the latter; the strengthening of regions can be
viewed as couterbalance for these „threats”. On the other hand, regions have
come to the fore as European integration acquired, apart from the economical
dimension, a cultural one, being understood as a union of diversities.
this context, Romania’s political will to regionalisation is rather weak. The
process was started in partnership with European institutions which provided
the funds for researches in regional discrepancies and resulted in a document without official
status and which divided the territory into eight macroregions (the counties
being the entities usually reffered to as regions). Nevertheless, the counties
have initiated by themselves cooperation agreements, thus setting up an
intermediary administrative level (though not one to enjoy a juridical status).
coming to the issue of regionalism, it should be noted that it has a political
source as well as a historical source, both carrying a tension potential.
Consequently, regions should not be conceived of in a hard form, where the borders
between them are rigid and closed, but in a soft, opened form allowing
for criss-cross initiatives and cooperation.
From the „Transylvanian Issue” to
the „European Issue”
modernity has been the age of the nation states, postmodernity has brought
about the postnational states. In the case of Romania, the question arises
whether she will carry on pursuing the integration model notwithstanding that
she will not be able to integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures in the next few
years, or she will get stuck into an undecided political mode. Here
Transylvania, whose tradition is preeminently national, should accordingly
reinvent its tradition and turn into the tank engine able to pull the rest of
Romania to Europe. To accomplish this, Romania as a whole must, in its turn,
distinguish between the national idea and that of the ethnic, and she must also
shift from rural traditions to an urban mentality; another starting point could
be the critical redeeming of Transylvania’s federalist traditions.
Romanian (Fu)tourism: Migration
Strategies Through Hungary
on various data sources, the study highlights the main characteristics of the
Romanian illegal migrants in the general context of other foreign (transit)
migration in Hungary. Presenting primarily a qualitative analysis of the topic,
the work describes the evolution of the Romanian migrational process through
Hungary since the end of the communist period (started as soon as Hungary
opened up its borders to the former East German citizens) up to the present; it
also tries to determine the expectations of the phenomenon.
during the communist regime the main reason for leaving the country was of
political nature, today the reasons are no longer political or conflictual (as
they were at the beginning of the transition period), but economic. Another
push factor is the growing political convergence of Eastern European states with
those of Western Europe.
most important place to cluster Romanians in groups and also the most
symbolically charged one is the Moscow Square in Budapest, this being the
reason why the study concentrates on the analysis of the socio-dynamic of the
place which epitomizes the features of the phenomenon considered as a whole.
person entering a foreign culture and wishing to became part of it, must pass
through each stage of the socialisation process. For the Romanian irregular
immigrants in Hungary, since most of them do not intend to settle here, the
integration process finishes even before its proper inception. Thus, irregular
Romanian immigrants in Hungary are confronted here with new push and pull
factors, their discontent remaining unchanged.
The OSLO Recommendation Regarding
the Linguistic Rights
of National Minorities &
The Oslo Recommendations focus primarily on
those situations involving persons belonging to national/ethnic groups who
constitute the numerical majority in one state but the numerical minority in
another (usually neighbouring) state, thus engaging the interest of
governmental authorities in each state and constituting a potential source of
inter-state tension if not conflict since such tensions have, indeed, defined
much of European history.
It is important to note that all OSCE States
are bound by United Nations obligations relating to human rights, including
minority rights, and that the great majority of OSCE States are also bound by
the standards of the Council of Europe.
International human rights instruments refer to
the linguistic rights of national minorities, i.e. the right of persons
belonging to national minorities to use their language in the private and
public spheres in a number of different contexts. On one hand, language is a
personal matter closely connected with identity. On the other hand, language is
an essential tool of social organisation which in many situations becomes a
matter of public interest. Certainly, the use of language bears on numerous
aspects of a state’s functioning. In a democratic state committed to human
rights, the accommodation of existing diversity thus becomes an important
matter of policy and law. Failure to achieve the appropriate balance may be the
source of inter-ethnic tensions.
Insofar as existing standards of minority
rights are part of human rights, the Oslo Recommendations presume compliance
by states with all other human rights obligations including, in particular,
equality and freedom from discrimination, freedom of expression, freedom of
assembly and of association, as well as all the rights and freedoms of persons
belonging to national minorities.
They also presume that the ultimate object of
all human rights is the full and free development of the individual human
personality in the conditions of equality. Consequently, civil society should
be open and fluid and, therefore, integrate all persons, including those
belonging to national minorities. Insofar as the use of language is also a
fundamentally communicative matter, the essential social dimension of the human
experience is also fully presumed.
The Oslo Recommendations Regarding the
Linguistic Rights of National Minorities attempt to clarify, in relatively
straight-forward language, the content of minority language rights generally
applicable in the situations in which the High Commissioner on National
Minorities is involved. In addition, the standards have been interpreted in
such a way as to ensure their coherence in application. The Recommendations are
divided into sub-headings which respond to the language related issues which
arise in practice. A more detailed explanation of the Recommendations is
provided in an accompanying Explanatory Note wherein express reference to the
relevant intemational standards is to be found.
The Recommendations may provide a useful
reference for the development of state policies and laws which will contribute
to an effective implementation of the language rights of persons belonging to
national minorities, especially in the public sphere.
Although these Recommendations refer to the use
of language by persons belonging to national minorities, it is to be noted that
the thrust of these Recommendations and the intemational instruments fom which
they derive could potentially apply to other types of minorities. The
Recommendations are meant to clarify the existing body of rights. They are not
meant to restrict the human rights of any person or groups of persons.
Saxon Scholars on Jewish People
Jews’ representation in the mentality of Christians has always been a
paradoxical one: they have been the symbol of otherness and, at the same time,
of relatedness since both Christians and Jews recognise the Old Testament as
their founding book. Modernity, and its setting up of the nation state model,
was only to complicate even more the perception of Jews: they were the only
people without a homeland. The Saxon scholars in Transylvania are no exception;
while interested and specialising in Jewish culture, they nevertheless
contributed to the reinforcement of stereotypes about Jews.
FACES OF EUROPE
Switzerland and Its Languages
often referred to as a model of minority languages treatment, Switzerland is
not yet a model of equity proper. Only three languages (German, French,
Italian) of the four spoken in the Confederation enjoy a full official status.
Rhaeto-Romanic, according to legal provisions, shall be used „in the contacts
between the Confederation and the Rhaeto-Romanic speaking persons”. The two
principles underlying the legal status of languages in Switzerland are that of
territoriality and that of freedom of languages. In the public sphere, unfortunately,
the freedom of languages is partially restricted by their territoriality.
Glasnost and the Gospel: The
Emergence of Religious Pluralism in Russia
The collapse of the communist regime
and ideology has opened the way for a fervent religious activity. Yet, unaccustomed
to religious pluralism, Russian political decision-makers responded by
attempting to limit the involvement of foreign churches and faiths into Russian
society, and clearly favouring the prevailing Russian Orthodox Church.
Bán D. András, Diószegi László,
Márer Pál, Pritz Pál, Romsics Ignác
Integrationist Tendencies in Central
and Eastern Europe
in the 19th and 20th centuries
The Central and Eastern Europe is
known rather for its repeated disintegrationist movements, but, as the five contributions
in the volume show, they coexisted with other, marginalised and, therefore,
failed attempts aimed at integration. The present European integrationist trend
is not lacking a tradition, after all.