Does Autonomy Matter? Subnational Governments and the Challenge of Vertical Policy Integration for Sustainable Development: A Comparative Analysis of Quebec, Flanders, North Rhine-Westphalia and North Holland
Canadian Journal of Political Science vol:45 issue:1 pages:141-161
Sustainable development needs to be tackled at all governmental levels. Moreover, policies need to be integrated, horizontally and vertically. This article studies the efforts of subnational governments and their strategies towards vertical policy integration. Four cases are compared: Quebec (Canada), Flanders (Belgium), North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and North Holland (the Netherlands). The assumption is that their approach is determined by their degree of autonomy, which involves their competences within their own borders (self-rule), and their influence on national decision making (shared rule). The findings, however, show that degree of autonomy does not shape the subnational governments’ stance towards vertical policy integration for sustainable development. Rather, it is influenced by other factors, such as political dynamics. The analysis also puts forward that the degree of self-rule of subnational governments has a large influence on the content of sustainable development policies, not only at the subnational, but also at the national level.