The World in the Region

41 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2014

See all articles by Ernst Hirsch Ballin

Ernst Hirsch Ballin

Tilburg Law School; T.M.C. Asser Instituut; University of Amsterdam

Date Written: September 1, 2014


This paper contains the lecture delivered by Professor Ernst M.H. Hirsch Ballin on the occasion of the Opening of the Academic Year at Tilburg University on September 1, 2014 on innovation in regional government. Using the interest in the new interactions that are developing between social, private and public forms of government at the regional level as a starting point, it is proposed to acknowledge the reality of globalization and its counter-movements, but also to look beyond them to what might help to bring order to what is, as yet, a chaotic constellation of forces. While in many places doubts about the efficacy of state government and the current state of Western democracies – consider the much discussed impasses in Western democracies – are growing, there is more confidence in local and regional government. Different issues and developments are discussed and a new form of government is considered in this context. Authorities, social organizations, and private enterprises must be enabled to commit to new initiatives through a broad repertoire of normative forms of action: a combination of law pure and simple, of persuasion, contractual relations and joint ventures, and joint access to information. Governance seems to be a fitting term to describe this cooperation. The term derives from the word “government”, but is broader in that it covers both “vertical” and “horizontal” norms and law in the strict sense of the word as well as “soft law”. However, we need to be constantly aware of the areas of tension where regional governance must be put into practice. Regions are multi-form. They can overlap or surround each other. Still, in times of disorientation and uncertainty, regions preeminently offer opportunities. The challenge for regional government reaches beyond the region’s vitality: it concerns the vitality of the democratic constitution. Even though law was “invented” to be able to set standards for distanced relations, if one is no longer capable to form a picture of the other, the moral potential of the law is jeopardized. Given its increasing significance, the region thus is anything but a minor phenomenon associated with globalization. This is clearly illustrated by the economic, cultural, and social links across state borders. The region, as a combination of city and surrounding area, does not turn away from these new international dynamics, but constitutes one of the ways in which they shape the social environment. Yet this requires creating and meeting favorable conditions. The international legal system must guarantee peace, the European legal order must create conditions for regional development, as provided in the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, and the national legal system must provide reliable administration of justice and maintain law and order.

The rationalization of the law as legal rules equally applicable to all has made distanced relations – i.e., without personal contact – reliable, and this situation must be preserved; the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms is an essential element here. At a regional level, opportunities emerge thanks to short-distance contacts. Administrative transparency and accountability must prevent a relapse into closed forms of solidarity. A reliable legal system offers scope for social, economic, technological, and cultural inventiveness, which can be used when people know how to connect as fellow citizens.

Keywords: Regional Dynamics, Regional Government, Globalization, Municipal Government, Administrative Law, Municipal Law, Governance, Democratic Society

Suggested Citation

Hirsch Ballin, Ernst M.H., The World in the Region (September 1, 2014). Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 01/2015, Available at SSRN: or

T.M.C. Asser Instituut

P.O. Box 30461
2500 GL The Hague, 2517JN


University of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, 1018 WB


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