Governance and inter-dependence. The 'governance' cost of dependence

AutorJoxerramon Bengoetxea Caballero
Cargo del AutorProfesor Titular de Filosofía del Derecho, UPV/EHU
Governance and inter-dependence.
The “governance” cost of dependence
J B C
Profesor Titular de Filosofía del Derecho, UPV/EHU
I. Introduction. Governance as an approach
II. Sense and scope of reference of “Governance”
III. A working concept of Governance
IV. The cost of Governance dependence in Europe
V. The complexity of Basque Governance and its High Inter-dependence
The European Union gives the impression of an institutional system in a
permanent, existential, crisis with Member States pulling and pushing in different
directions within and outwith the Council and the European Council, with a
weak Commission and a noisy, but inefficient, European Parliament. For all the
technical advances in Governance, this sense of a crisis seems hard to avoid. Ten
long years of economic, social, cultural and political crises have pitted North
versus South, East versus West, countries of first entry versus countries of final
destination, illiberal democracies versus neoliberal systems. And yet, at the same
time these years have also shown a hidden vitality of Europeans acting across
borders, with civil society and social movements, claiming that alternatives to the
status quo do exist, but not getting enough voice in the institutional system or
in the mainstream media. The rise of populism in the forms of political parties
and movements has also created tensions in a context where citizens seem to lose
control over their own lives. Decisions seem to be made in far away centres and
little control is available from the classic institutional milieu where the principles
of democracy and the rule of law formally apply but fail to empower citizens.
One of the challenges is precisely to articulate forms of decision-making
that represent and give voice to civil society and social movements without
Joxerramon Bengoetxea Caballero
disrupting the constitutional arrangement of contemporary European poli-
tical systems based on representative democracy, the rule of law, respect for
human rights, and federalism, or, in unitary systems, sufficient accommoda-
tion of minorities. Powerful business and multinational companies manage to
have a loud voice in the neoliberal systems without any particular institutional
provision to channel such communication, and the challenge here is also to
articulate means and forms of decision-making where such interests and stake-
holders, used to accessing discrete means of communication with the executi-
ve and the legislative powers, can be made more transparent and accountable.
This is largely what governance is about, a multi-dimensional and multi level
approach to collective decision-making in society, its networks and its institu-
tions, making decisions that affect citizens’ lives.
My contribution deals with governance but will not attempt to define it.
In a sense this is so broad that the whole programme of the Summer Course
on the cost of dependence can be seen as dealing with governance issues:
the general issues concerning the tax and economic governance, research,
technology and innovation policy, education and lifelong learning, language
and cultural policy, sport and leisure policies, and health, a domain left out
of the programme, are all policy areas where the mix of private initiative
and public responsibilities, the degree and extent of regulation are crucial
Governance studies intersect with constitutionalism (Bengoetxea and
Sundberg 2004). More specifically, all the issues of the session on Powers and
Competences have to do with governance. Competence or powers and their
distribution –who does what?– is one of the key issues in governance, especially
in decentralised and complex systems where the state brings together a
plurality of territorial or functional entities. The competence to decide on the
distribution of competences, the K-K question, is another crucial issue, often
entrusted to a federal constitutional court or a federal chamber of parliament.
This is also related to another way to control the validity of legal norms, i.e.
judicial and constitutional review of legislation and of competence sharing,
another classical theme in federal governance.
Justice, or the administration of justice, more generally, is also of central
and special concern to governance. Questions like “What sort of disputes are
to be solved through litigation? And what kind through alternative means?”
or “How and by who are they to be settled?” are indeed central questions
of governance of the judiciary. Judicial governance is sometimes restricted
to the self-government by the judiciary, but this understanding of judicial
independence as somehow unaccountable except to itself can blur many
informal connections between justice and politics. Thus, it makes perfect
sense to speak about the politicization of justice in some legal systems.

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