Inaugural address

How to effectively deal with complex societal problems, in a world that is continuously globalizing, but in which cities and regions play an increasingly important role? This question was central to the inaugural address of TiREG director Martijn Groenleer as Professor of Regional Law and Governance. Groenleer delivered the address at Tilburg University on 3 June 2016, in a jam-packed auditorium, and in the presence of representatives of European, national, regional and local levels of governance.


In his inaugural address, Groenleer pointed out that the region plays an increasingly important role in the response to complex societal issues, including global climate change and transnational organized crime – two examples on which he is currently conducting research. Indeed, the region, in its various (and variable) sizes and shapes, seems to serve as a focal point of activity, economically, societally, ecologically, and culturally. Not necessarily as an administrative or political actor or a level of government, such as the provinces, but as a multi-actor and multilevel arena.


Groenleer argued that the novel and emerging interactions between governments, businesses, knowledge institutions and citizens within the region are, in fact, closely linked to processes of globalization and Europeanization. Besides growing uniformity and a loss of distinctiveness, these processes give rise to increased regionalization, both in the Netherlands and in other places in Europe. This is not an even process, however: for example, metropolitan regions such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam-The Hague and Eindhoven face considerably different challenges than the Euregion Maas-Rijn.


The growing differences between regions prompt questions about how to arrange regional governance. According to Groenleer, existing perspectives on regional governance put too much emphasis on administrative structures. They fail to grasp the intricacies of novel and emerging interactions and the need for flexibility in light of variations in regional problems. In order to understand, as well as shape transformations and innovations in regional law and governance, he therefore suggested to adopt an approach focused on studying the nature of regional problems, the collective goals of the various involved parties, their capacities, and the legitimacy of their collaborative efforts within the region.



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