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When soft spaces harden: the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region


  • Jonathan Metzger
  • Peter Schmitt


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

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Metzger & Peter Schmitt, 2012. "When soft spaces harden: the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(2), pages 263-280, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:2:p:263-280

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    Cited by:

    1. Sielker, Franziska, 2014. "Soft borders als neues Raumkonzept in der EU? Das Beispiel der Makroregionalen Kooperationen," Arbeitsberichte der ARL: Aufsätze,in: Nimm's sportlich - Planung als Hindernislauf, pages 79-94 Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung (ARL) - Leibniz-Forum für Raumwissenschaften.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:4:p:949-:d:137866 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Lee Pugalis & Alan R. Townsend, 2014. "The emergence of ‘new’ spatial coalitions in the pursuit of functional regions of governance," Regional Science Policy & Practice, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 49-67, March.
    4. Dmitry Nechiporuk, 2014. "Redesigning Maritime Space: EU Multi-level Governance and Environmental Issues of the Baltic Sea," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers p0373, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    5. Graham Haughton & Philip Allmendinger, 2015. "Fluid Spatial Imaginaries: Evolving Estuarial City-regional Spaces," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(5), pages 857-873, September.
    6. Jonathan Metzger, 2013. "Raising the Regional Leviathan: A Relational-Materialist Conceptualization of Regions-in-Becoming as Publics-in-Stabilization," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(4), pages 1368-1395, July.
    7. Simon Parker & Michael Harloe, 2015. "What Place For The Region? Reflections on the Regional Question and the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(2), pages 361-371, March.
    8. repec:bla:ijurrs:v:41:y:2017:i:4:p:676-693 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:bla:ijurrs:v:41:y:2017:i:4:p:642-657 is not listed on IDEAS

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