A ‘bottom-up’ perspective on EU-US relations: The role of sub-national authorities

Josephine A.W. Van Zeben*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The ever-increasing scope of European competences and the analogous loss in state sovereignty disrupts the delicate balance of power between the European Union and its Member States. However, the effects of this continuous redistribution of power are not limited to the relationship between the EU and its Member States; they trickle down to the sub-national level. Multi-level governance scholarship has provided ample theoretical explanation and empirical evidence on how the combined forces of European integration and regionalism have shattered the regulatory monopoly of the nation states. This is especially true for international relations, which many considered a quintessential sovereign prerogative. This volume explores several aspects of the relationship between the United States and the European Union. In doing so, it emphasizes the legal, rather than political, underpinnings and manifestations of this emergent community. This present-day relationship is preceded by, and builds on, pre-existing relationships between the United States and the EU Member States, which were, and continue to be, sovereign nation states under international law. Any discussion of the transatlantic relationship must therefore go beyond an exclusive focus on the EU’s ‘federal’ level. Any initial impression of a ‘bilateral’ EU–US relationship quickly gives way to a complex network composed of actors who engage in formal and informal action in a myriad of policy areas. Within this network, the role of sub-national authorities (SNAs) and regions, both in the United States and in the European Member States, has traditionally gone under-theorized. In 2001, Pollack and Shaffer published their tripartite typology of interaction between the EU and the USA focusing on intergovernmental action, transgovernmental action – dominated by technocratic bureaucrats – and transnational action, which is led by civil society and other non-governmental organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Transatlantic Community of Law
Subtitle of host publicationLegal Perspectives on the Relationship between the EU and US Legal Orders
EditorsElaine Fahey, Deirdre Curtin
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781107447141
ISBN (Print)9781107060517
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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