When soft spaces harden: the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
This paper investigates the first ever so-called ‘macroregional strategy’ developed under the aegis of the European Commission: the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR). Through a drawing together of elements of actor-network theory and regionalization theory, it is argued that the adoption of the EUSBSR can be seen as a milestone within a wider process towards Baltic Sea regionalization, whereby the Baltic Sea region is increasingly ‘solidified’ through the positioning of the European Commission as a spokesperson for the interests of the region. It is further suggested that, if not seriously contested, the possible acceptance of the European Commission as a designated regional spokesperson might be a crucial step in a process whereby the soft space of the Baltic Sea Region may gradually become more formalized. Nonetheless, caution must be taken so as not to confuse degrees of formal institutional fixity with degrees of durability. Keywords: Baltic sea, EU, EUSBSR, regionalization, spokesperson, soft spaces, metagovernance
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