Presented by Giada Lagana and Daniel Wincott
This article introduces a strategic-relational approach to the analysis of sub-state metagovernance in Ireland-Wales territorial cooperation. The proposed approach aims to overcome two major weaknesses in the literature on territorial cooperation. Existing studies on regionalism, cross-border and/or territorial cooperation leave little room for the strategic role of sub-state authorities and private networks. Furthermore, they usually analyse strategy or structure in isolation. The strategic-relational heuristic, developed by Bob Jessop, will allow this article to examine the conscious mobilization, the forming and the shaping of interregional spaces through sub-national actors. It will examine the strategies taken at various levels to the differential opportunities and constraints the interregional context poses. Using the European Union (EU) INTERREG Ireland-Wales programme as an illustrative example, this paper will investigate the successes and failures of Irish-Welsh sub-state authorities in actively shape cooperation. It will consider the broader context of the BREXIT debates and developments in the United Kingdom (UK), the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and the EU and their far-reaching consequences on the future of such cooperation. The creation, the geographical dimension, the thematic priorities and the governance mechanism appear in this context as key objects of metagovernance. Specifically, the paper will argue for a necessary reconsideration of the mutual interaction between strategy and structure in multi-level territorial contexts.