chapter  2
22 Pages

State Traditions, Administrative Reform and Regionalization

One of the most common features of public affairs during the 1980s and 1990s has been administrative reform, which differs from simple administrative change and incremental adaptation by being planned, intentional and, sometimes, systematic (Caiden, 1990). Countries that appear to be models of superior economic and political performance - Japan and Singapore are examples - have engaged in significant reform efforts (Krauss and Muramatsu, forthcoming; Quah, 1987) along with those of less commendable records of performance. Even in those countries that have adopted no significant administrative changes possible reforms have been on the political agenda, and political and administrative elites to some degree have had to justify their lack of greater reform activity. One of the most important reform efforts in most western states has been some form of regionalization (Loughlin, 1994). This has happened at the level of the European Union with the enhancement of regional policy since 1985 and the introduction of the principles of partnership and subsidiarity in the Single European Act of 1987 and the Treaty on Political Union signed at Maastricht in 1993. Political regionalization (the granting of decision-making powers to regional governments) has occurred in individual states such as Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands and is on the political agenda in the UK, with Labour promises to implement devolution to Scotland and Wales and the English regions. Administrative regionalization, largely as a result of pressures from the European Commission in relation to the implementation of Structural Action Funds, has occurred in Ireland, Greece and is being encouraged in Portugal,

although none of these countries is keen on developing a political form of regionalization.