Northern Ireland and the EU
Applying a theory of multi-level governance
in Theories of International Relations and Northern Ireland
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Chapter eight analyses the relevance of the theory of multi-level governance (MLG) to explain the role of the European Union (EU) in Northern Ireland and contends that the EU successfully engages Northern Ireland as a region of a member state without threatening that state’s sovereignty or power. The EU has increasingly become successful because of its accommodation with the British state, and the British state allows the EU as a mechanism to reconcile communities in Northern Ireland. MLG emphasises the multi-level nature of EU politics and attaches significance to the role played by subnational units and supranational institutions in the policy process. The model also proposes new forms of governance which offers a specific conception of EU politics based on an altered relationship between state and non-state actors, where the latter have become increasingly influential. The MLG model may not fully capture some of the internal constraints, complexities, and divisions which are characteristic of Northern Ireland’s recent political experience and which are reflected in its evolving relationship with the EU.

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