Institut für Politikwissenschaft


The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence “Positioning Regions and Regionalism in a Democratic Europe” (PRRIDE) focuses on regions and regionalisation in the European Union (EU) and on how they contribute to democratic governance in the EU. 

The role of regions in the EU is debated since the 1980s. The high hopes for a “Europe of the regions” were soon disappointed. Nevertheless, today processes of territorial decentralization are underway in many EU member states. Also many regions aim to become more active players in EU affairs at both the domestic and the EU level (e.g. within the subsidiarity monitoring mechanism). In addition, the formation of transborder macro-regional strategies is a prominent tool in EU regional policy for many regions across Europe. Thus, today it is more appropriate to speak of a “Europe with the regions”. However, what this implies is a contested issue. These questions are at the heart of the work programme of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence PRRIDE.

Through various research and teaching activities, PRRIDE sheds light on these trends. PRRIDE brings together expertise from political science scholars working in various fields such as European integration theory, theories of democracy and participation, comparative politics and comparative federalism, and regionalization and decentralization studies, and serves as a link to other disciplines dealing with regionalism such as law and geography.

The PRRIDE center's director is Prof. Dr. Gabriele Abels, Jean Monnet Chair at Tübingen University's Institute of Political Science, and is funded by the European Commission's Erasmus+programme, 2015-2018.

Further information in the PRRIDE flyer


Gabriele Abels

Prof. Dr.
Project Leader

Jan H. Battke

M.A. (formerly Jan Ullrich)
Project Coordinator

Martin Große Hüttmann

Akademischer Oberrat
Project Staff

Alexander Kobusch

Project Staff

PRRIDE Network

The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence PRRIDE serves as the focal point of a European-wide network of researchers working in the field of federalism, multi level governance, (comparative) regionalism, and regionalization.

Thus, PRRIDE gathers the multi-disciplinary expertise and competences of high level experts from different countries and disciplines (political science, law, and political geography). Thereby, synergies between these academic disciplines are developed among researchers and learners.

"The future of the EU and the role of the regions"


European Committee of the Regions, Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2018


A wide debate on the future of Europe is taking place, at a time of multiple challenges for European integration. At the same time, we see the striking calls for greater autonomy or even independence by several regions in Europe, an intensified regional lobbying, transnational regional cooperation and macro-regional strategies. These developments illustrate the need to discuss what role the regions could and should play in the future EU27.

Towards the background of the debate about the future of the EU, the subsidiarity principle and the role of regions and cities in European affairs, this one-day conference will bring together politicians and academics in order to discuss some of the most important questions in this respect:

  • What role is there for regions to foster democracy in the EU?
  • What are the potential effects of a “multi-speed Europe” on regions?
  • How can the “subsidiarity mechanism” be enhanced?
  • How do regions respond to the changes in the EU’s economic governance?
  • Do “macro-regions” have an impact on governance across borders?
  • What are the challenges for regions with regards to a “social Europe” and the future of EU cohesion policy?

The two rounds of three parallel workshops are at the heart of the conference. Based on inputs from elected politicians and CoR members and academics, they will allow to discuss these questions in more detail.

The event invites representatives of regional, national and European parliaments, governments and associations as well as researchers and experts from EU institutions, universities and think tanks.
Two plenary sessions and six working groups will be held in an interactive way; the results will feed in the activities of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on the future of the EU and academic research in the field.


The conference is co-organised by the European Committee of the Regions and Prof Dr Gabriele Abels, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence PRRIDE, University of Tübingen, Germany, in cooperation with Prof Dr Ulrike Guérot, Danube University Krems, Austria, Director of the European Democracy Lab.



Welcome addresses

  • Barbara Duden, Member of Hamburg City Parliament, Germany, and Chair of the CoR Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX)
  • Prof Dr Gabriele Abels, Director of Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence PRRIDE,
    University of Tübingen, Germany



Panel debate: regions and the future of the EU

  • Danuta Hübner, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Committee on
  • Constitutional Affairs (AFCO)
  • Barbara Duden, Member of Hamburg City Parliament and Chair of the CoR
  • Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX)
  • Prof Dr Simona Piattoni, University of Trento, Italy
  • Prof Dr Gabriele Abels, University of Tübingen, Germany

Moderator: Prof Dr Stefan Gänzle, University of Agder, Norway


Networking Lunch


Parallel workshops I


1) Multi-speed Europe and its potential effects on regions

  • Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Head of the Region of Central Macedonia, Greece, and CoR member
  • Prof Dr Simona Piattoni, University of Trento, Italy


Moderator: David Simmonds, Councillor, London Borough of Hillingdon, CoR member


2) Enhancing the subsidiarity mechanism

  • Michael Schneider, State Secretary, Representative of the Land of Saxony-Anhalt to the German Federal Government and CoR member
  • Prof Dr Christian Callies, European Commission, Team Leader, European Political Strategy Centre


Moderator: Prof Dr Gabriele Abels, University of Tübingen, Germany


3) The role of macro-regions in European governance

  • Olgierd Geblewicz, President of West Pomerania Region and CoR member
  • Prof Dr Stefan Gänzle, University of Agder, Norway


Moderator: Doreen Huddart, Member of Newcastle City Council, United Kingdom, and CoR member

15:45 Coffee Break

Parallel Workshops II


4) Regions and changes in economic governance

  • Christophe Rouillon, Mayor of Coulanes, France, and CoR member
  • Dr Dieter Plewe, Berlin Social Science Centre (WZB), Germany


Moderator: Michael Murphy, Councillor, Tipperary County Council, Ireland, and CoR member


5) Democratic requirements for European regional governance

• Mairi Angela Gougeon, Member of the Scottish Parliament and CoR member

• Prof Dr Ulrike Guérot, University of Krems, Austria


Moderator: Prof Dr Gabriele Abels, University of Tübingen, Germany


6) Social Europe and the challenges for cohesion policy

  • Simonetta Saliera, President of the Emilia-Romagna Regional Assembly and CoR member
  • Claire Dhéret, EPC Brussels, Social Europe & Well-being programme


Moderator: Prof Dr Simona Piattoni, University of Trento, Italy



• Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR)

• Prof Dr Gabriele Abels, University of Tübingen, Germany


Brexit: a regional perspective

Panel debate

  • Mairi Angela Gougeon, Member of the Scottish Parliament and CoR member
  • Michael Murphy, Councillor, Tipperary County Council, Ireland, and CoR member
  • Prof Dr Raquel Ortega Argilés, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Prof Dr Ulrike Guérot, Danube University Krems, Austria


Moderator: Prof Dr Gabriele Abels, Director of Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence

PRRIDE, University of Tübingen, Germany


End of conference

Conference Proceedings

The two rounds of three parallel workshops were at the heart of the conference. Based on contributions from elected politicians, CoR members and academics, they provided an opportunity to discuss these questions in more detail.

The conference finished with a debate on the regional impact of Brexit. During that debate, the current stateof the Brexit negotiations and its impact on the economic and social situation of the regions in the UK and the 27 member states of the EU were discussed.

The event was attended by around 180 representatives of regional, national and European parliaments, governments and associations as well as researchers and experts from EU institutions, universities and think tanks. Two plenary sessions and six working groups were held in an interactive way. The results will feed into the activities of the CoR on the future of the EU and academic research in this field.

E-Book on the Conferece Proceedings

"Europe with the Regions"

PRRIDE Conference

Schloss Hohentübingen, Tübingen, Germany, May 11 - 13, 2017


On three days, seven different panels, and a public panel discussion more than 25 experts - scholars and practitioners - from the fields of political science, law, and geograhy present their work and views on the role of regions and regionalization in Europe. One result of the discussions will be an edited volume to be published in 2018.


PRRIDE thanks the conference's cooperation partners: ERASMUS+, the Ministerium der Justiz und für Europa Baden-Württemberg, the Universitätsbund Tübingen e.V., and Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.


Please refer to the programme leaflet and the change of programme for detailed information

Programme leaflet

Change of programme

Panel Discussion - open to public

"Starke Regionen in Europa: Was heißt das für Baden-Württemberg?"

Neue Aula, Audimax, 11. Mai 2017, 19.00 Uhr

Subsidiarität und „Europafähigkeit“ – das sind seit je her Leitbegriffe der baden-württembergischen Europapolitik. Als eine der stärksten Regionen in der Europäischen Union profitiert das Land – nicht nur ökonomisch – immens von einem geeinten Europa sowie von der EU-Regionalpolitik und hat entsprechend die Stärkung der regionalen Dimension im Prozess der europäischen Integration in den letzten 25 Jahren mit vorangetrieben. Das Land ist an zahlreichen grenzüberschreitenden Projekten beteiligt, so u.a. an der „Donauraumstrategie“, die einen Ausbau der regionalen Kooperation etwa im Bereich des Umweltschutzes, der beruflichen Bildung oder der Zivilgesellschaftsförderung zum Ziel haben.


  • Dr. Walter Deffaa, Generaldirektor a.D., GD Regionalpolitik und Stadtentwicklung, Europäische Kommission
  • Daniel Lede Abal (GRÜNE), MdL, u.a. stellvertretender Fraktionsvorsitzender der Fraktion GRÜNE im Landtag von Baden-Württemberg
  • Peter Simon (SPD), MdEP, u.a. Mitglied im Ausschuss für die regionale Entwicklung
  • Katja Vonhoff, Selbstständige Beraterin für NGOs und Expertin für die Donauraumstrategie der EU

Moderation: Prof. Dr. Gabriele Abels, Universität Tübingen, Kreisvorsitzende der Europa-Union Tübingen

Conference Proceedings

Results of the discussions will be published in an edited volume in 2018/2019.

PRRIDE Lectures & Visiting Scholars

Annual Guest Lecture 2018: Prof. Dr. Liesbet Hooghe

Neue Aula, Großer Senat, July 25, 2018

Why has regional authority deepened over the past sixty years? Why does regional authority vary from state to state? And why do some regions play a distinctive role that sets them apart from other regions in the same country? Why, in short, has the structure of governance within states become multilevel and differentiated? We theorize that jurisdictional design is shaped by two big forces: the functional pressures that arise from the logic of scale in providing public goods, and the preferences that communities have regarding self-government. Functional pressures are enduring, but one must engage human passions regarding self-rule to explain why the structure of rule varies over time and around the world. We test these conjectures against evidence drawn from an original dataset on the authority of individual regions and regional tiers in 81 countries.

Prof. Dr. Liesbet Hooghe is W.R. Kenan Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Robert Schuman Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy. Her main research focus is on multilevel governance in Europe, in Latin America and Southeast Asia as well as in international organizations.

Among her recent publications are Cleavage Theory and Europe’s Crises: Lipset, Rokkan and the Transnational Cleavage (with Gary Marks, Journal of European Public Policy, 2018); Community, Scale, and Regional Governance: A Postfunctionalist Theory of Governance (with Gary Marks, Oxford University Press, 2016); Measuring Regional Authority: A Post-functionalist Theory of Governance (with Gary Marks et al., Oxford University Press, 2016).

Matteo Nicolini's guest lecture at the IfP

PRRIDE Visiting Scholar 2018: Prof. Dr. Matteo Nicolini

From April 30 to May 9, Prof. Dr. Matteo Nicolini, Associate Professor of Comparative Law at the University of Verona, Italy, was the 2018 PRRIDE Visiting Scholar. Matteo Nicolini will presented on his research on regions in the European Union from a comparative constituational perspective within the framework of the weekly scientific colloquium at Tübingen University's Institute of Political Science and offered a graduate block seminar on "The Legal Geography of Multi-Level Contexts: The Case of the EU Territorial Constitution".

In general, Dr. Nicolini's research focuses on Comparative, Italian and European Constitutional Law, Federalism and Regionalism, the process of European Integration, Legal Geography and Southern African Law. Among his recent publications are Articulating the Body Politic: Intersections in Law, Culture, and Society (editor) Pólemos. Journal of Law, Literature and Culture 12.1 2018; (with Martina Trettel), Societal Engagement, Democratic Transition, and Constitutional Implementation in Malawi, in T. Abbiate, M. Böckenförde, V. Federico (eds), Public Participation in African Constitutionalism, Routledge, Abington and New York, 2018, pp. 243-257.

As a guest of Tübingen University's Institute of Political Science, Prof. Nicolini offered a talk on "Regions in the EU – A Comparative Constitutional Perspective" as part of the Institute's weekly research colloquium. Nicolini argued that we need to think more systematically about what underlies the role of regions in terms of the desire of EU citizens to be represented at EU level other than citizens of states and what contribution they can make to the construction of a EU democracy. The talk was followed by a vivid open discussion involving both Tübingen faculty and students.

Prof. Dr. Simona Piattoni speaking at the PRRIDE Conference 2017

PRRIDE Annual Lecture 2017: Prof. Dr. Simona Piattoni

Institute of Political Science, May 10, 2017

Prof. Dr. Simona Piattoni held the 2017 PRRIDE Annual Guest Lecture. Prof. Dr. Simona Piattoni is Full Professor of Political Science (Department of Sociology and Social Research) at the University of Trento, Italy. Her main research focus is on democracy in the European Union (both theoretically and empirically), the Committee of the Regions (and its contribution to EU democracy), multi-level governance, and interest representation inlcuding the aspects of clientelism, patronage, and corruption.

Among her recent publications are: The European Union. Democratic Principles and Institutional Architectures in Times of Crisis (2015 (editor), Oxford: Oxford University Press), Shaping EU Policy from Below. EU Democracy and the Committee of the Regions (2016, coauthored with Justus Schönlau, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar); Handbook on Cohesion Policy in the EU (2016, coedited with Laura Polverari, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar).

Representing the Regions in EU policy-making

Guest article by Steven Heckler

Do regions matter in EU policy-making? How do regions construct and express political agency? What was, is and will be the role of regions in the European Union, i.e. a system of multilevel governance, as it was famously termed by Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks? Simon Piattoni, who is professor at the University of Trento and renowned research on regions in the EU, has addressed these and many more questions in this year’s PRRIDE annual lecture entitled ‘Representing the Regions in EU Policy-Making’.

What makes a region a region?

Regions are often understood as a geographically defined area, which is characterised by its culture, identity and future-oriented visions. This sense of particularity is especially obvious in regions, like Professor Piattoni’s home region – the Province of Trento in Italy, where people culturally feel more attached to their region than to the nation state. However, to become visible as a political entity, regions require a certain degree of political and/or administrative competencies.

Beyond nation states: What role for regions in the EU?

As regions had to ‘fight’ for being recognised as political beasts at the European level, only slowly augmented their role in the EU’s policy-making process. Piattoni exemplified this tedious process by referring to the three milestones: the development of a European Fund for Regional Development in 1973, the opening of the first regional office in 1984, and the establishment of the Committee of the Regions, which has to be consulted in a growing number of policies in the EU’s multilevel governance system. Today, regions possess three areas of agency in the EU – policy, politics and polity. Their role is enshrined both in the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and the Treaty on European Union. In addition, as Dr. des. Franziska Sielker recalled a week earlier in a PRRIDE guest lecture, (macro)-regions can be a useful approach to tackle common problems, such as enhancing transport infrastructure or addressing environmental concerns, in innovative ways.

As there is a great academic debate on whether or not regions actually can wield influence in EU policy-making, Piattoni argues that indeed many regions are able to shape EU policies. She even contends that regions increasingly behave like private actors when approaching Brussels. To become even more prominent actors in the legislative process, Piattoni proposes that regions themselves should work more proactively by proposing legislative initiatives themselves.

The importance of regions: Being a laboratory of democracy

Studying and understanding the regions inside the EU’s system of multilevel governance, as the Tübingen-based PRRIDE Centre does, is of outstanding relevance because regions are laboratories of democracy, as Simona Piattoni stressed. Inside regions, new policy solutions can be developed and tested, and if successful, promoted beyond the region as best practice examples. Here, the Tuscany region in Italy is an outstanding example of innovative approaches to participatory democracy experimented on the ground. There, the local government established an independent authority entrusted with a budget to conduct deliberative and participatory decision-making projects. Since then, scholars regard the policy structures emanating from Tuscany’s legge 69/07 as a prime example of citizens’ involvement in regional decision-making.

A Europe with, of, by or without the regions?

Professor Piattoni convincingly argued that while the dream of a Europe of the regions is unlikely to materialise in the near future, regions will continue to matter both at the national and at the European level. Hence, Europe should continue its path of a Europe with the regions. Therefore, Simona is a strong advocate of the Committee of the Regions, which provides the regions with an institutionalised means to make their positions heard in the EU’s legislative process.

Besides providing the attendees with a diligent overview of the role of regions in the EU’s multilevel governance polity, Professor Piattoni frequently illustrated her explanations by anecdotally referring to her experience as a researcher. For example, when conducting interviews with members of the Committee of the Region (CoR), she astonished to hear that a highly engaged British member of the CoR never talked about his activities inside the Brussels-based institution when being back home in his region because he assumed that citizens would not understand the CoR anyway. Simona Piattoni argued that thereby he deprived his citizens of an excellent possibility to learn more about this often-neglected EU institution. She maintains that representatives in the EU’s Committee of the Regions need to improve their activities in linking back their work in Brussels to the regions they come from.

An EU-styled Bretzel – Discussions on regions and the EU continued:

During the subsequent reception, both students and professors from Tübingen University discussed the role of regions and the future of the European Union with our distinguished guests Prof. Simona Piattoni and PRRIDE fellow 2017 Dr. des. Franziska Sielker.

Ringraziamo la professoressa Simona Piattoni per dare suo intervento stimolante e profondo sul ruolo delle regioni nel sistema multilivello Europeo come PRRIDE annual lecture 2017.

Dr. des. Franziska Sielker

PRRIDE Visiting Scholar 2017: Dr. des. Franziska Sielker

From May 2 to May 13, Dr. des. Franziska Sielker, Newton International Fellow at the University of Cambridge and Research Associate at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, was the 2017 PRRIDE Visiting Scholar. Dr. des. Franziska Sielker is Newton International Fellow at the University of Cambridge (Department of Land Economy) and Research Associate at the University Erlangen-Nürnberg. Her research focuses on the governance of macro-regional strategies, stakeholder’s perspectives towards the implementation of such strategies and their (future) role in the EU. Furthermore, she has worked on forms of European Integration, Europeanisation and processes of rescaling in European policy-making.

Among her recent publications are: A stakeholder-based EU Territorial Cooperation - the example of European macro-regions (2016, in: European Planning Studies, Vol. 24, No. 11, pp. 1995-2013); New approaches in European Governance? Perspectives of stakeholders in the Danube macro-region (2016, in: Regional Studies, Regional Science, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 88-95).

In her postdoctoral Project ‘POWER IN PLANNING – Stakeholders Choice of Power Channels in EU Sector Policies’ she aims to analyse the ways in which EU directives are implemented in different national contexts, and how in large-scale cooperation stakeholders influence the process. The objective is to scrutinize stakeholders’ choices of different ‘power channels’ as ways to influence processes of planning in sectoral policies. Empirically, the project intends to address two EU sectoral policies: The EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive is the newest regulatory, legal framework that influences planning. By contrast, EU transport policy offers financial incentives in relation to national decision-making.

Through her research she has developed regional expertise in the governance structures of the EU Danube Region Strategy, the EU Alpine Region Strategy and the North Sea Region 2020 Strategy.

Dr. des. Sielker both presented on her research on macro-regional cooperation in Europe within the framework of the weekly scientific colloquium at Tübingen University's Institute of Political Science and offered a graduate block seminar on "EU regional policies and European integration".

Two PRRIDE panels at Heidelberg Conference

At this year's joint meeting of the German (DVPW), Austrian (ÖVPW) and Swiss Associations of Political Science (SVPW), which took place from September 29 to October 1, 2016 at the University of Heidelberg, two panels were organized by PRRIDE director Gabriele Abels (University of Tübingen) and PRRIDE associate Anna-Lena Högenauer (University of Luxembourg).

The first panel featured presentations by Marlon Barbehön and Wolf J. Schünemann (both Universität Heidelberg), Stefan Schieren (Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt), Karin Schnebel (Universität München), and Thomas Kestler (Universität Würzburg).

The second panel featured papers by Kristine Kern (Universität Potsdam) and Stefan Gänzle (University of Agder), Daniel Göler (Universität Passau) and Kristina Kurze (Universität Göttingen), and Franziska Sielker (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) and Dominic Stead (Delft University).

While the first panel brought together a group of researchers working on "Domestic processes of regionalisation and their consequences" in general, the second panel "Macro-regional strategies in the EU" focused on macro-regional cooperation as a new tool of interregional cooperation in Europe. Both panels offered interesting presentations by all contributors, followed by fruitful discussions. PRRIDE director Gabriele Abels served as panel chair and discussant.

PRRDIE Guest Lecture by Dr. Anna-Lena Högenauer

Guest article by Simon Lindörfer

On June 1st, 2016 Dr. Anna-Lena Högenauer from the University of Luxembourg gave a lecture in the colloquium of the Institute of Political Science at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen on the question "Which role do subnational parliaments play in the European Union?". Her research includes questions of multi-level governance and regional interest representation, environmental policy-making, Europeanization, parliamentary administrations and parliamentary scrutiny of European affairs.

The lecturer analyses the European Union as an executive multi-level system of governance and asks the question, why the subnational parliaments should matter in this system. Dr. Högenauer pointed out that subnational Parliaments have to implement 70 % of European legislation. In the context of legitimation and representation of people subnational parliaments play an important role. Citizen place more trust in the regional level and a majority of EU citizens wishes that the regional level had a bigger say in EU policy.

The subnational parliaments can take on the following tasks in the EU system: legislative power, control function and representative function. Subnational parliaments are bound to the national level; traditionally, they got the rights to bring in resolutions and inquiries. At the European level regional parliaments with legislation rights should be consulted. There are 74 subnational parliaments with legislation competencies in the European Union.

The lecturer asked the question, how many EU-experts subnational parliaments have got and how many competences and resources they have in dealing with EU topics. In the context of the Early Warning System, which enables parliaments to carry out subsidiarity checks on draft EU legislative acts, all of the 74 subnational parliaments raised 134 Opinions. In comparison, the national parliaments raised 319 ‚Reasoned Opinions‘and 2458 Opinions.

Dr. Högenauer presented also that there are wide differences between the subnational parliaments. Nearly 50% (65) of the 134 Opinions were raised by less than 5% of the parliaments: Thüringen (29), Emilia Romagna (19) und Bayern (17). The Early Warning System shows the differences between the parliaments and the relation to the national parliaments. Hence, they consult the subnational parliaments in the context of the Early Warning System. In addition the subnational parliaments might not have sufficient capacities to deal with the paperwork of the EWS.

Subnational Parliaments have the possibility to bring in written questions about EU related topics to the national parliaments. In Scotland 1.5 % of the written questions are related to the EU, in Bayern 4%. 

As a result Dr. Högenauer finished the presentation with the conclusion that the attempt to integrate subnational parliaments was only successful to a lesser extend: There are problems in the motivation and in the capacities of the subnational parliaments.

PRRIDE opening ceremony with Dr. Wilfried Swenden

On June 8, 2016, Dr. Wilfried Swenden, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the School of Social and Political Science of the University of Edinburgh and Co-Director of the Centre of South Asian Studies there, gave held the opening lecture "Navigating compound polities: India and its comparative value for the European Union" at Tübingen University's PRRIDE Jean Monnet Centre on the comparative value of India for the European Union.

The lecture was followed by a vital Q'n'A session, and a festive reception dedicated to the establishment of PRRIDE. In his welcoming address the former Minister for the Bundesrat, Europe and International Affairs of Baden-Wuerttemberg Peter Friedrich (SPD) emphasized the importance of the regions for democratic governance in Europe and the collaboration of academia and politics.