With the adoption of its first ‘macro-regional’ strategy in 2009 — the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) — the European Union has started to charter new territory in transnational cooperation and cohesion policy. Subsequently, other ‘macro-regions’ have begun to self-identify — such as the Danube (2011), the Adriatic-Ionian basin (2014), the Alpine (2015) and the North Sea regions1 (see European Parliament, 2015) — and are in the process of developing similar strategies of their own, often drawing on ‘the inspiration from the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the Danube Region’ (North Sea Commission, 2011, p. 2). These developments suggest that some parts of Europe, if not the entire EU, could come to be covered by some kind of macro-regional strategy. Indeed, in 2013, the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council proposed a ‘Europe of macro-regions’ (Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council, 2013, p. 9) and an ever-increasing area has been described as having succumbed to a kind of ‘macro-regional fever’ (Dühr, 2011, p. 3). Such observations and the concrete developments that underpin them warrant a critical assessment of this ‘“nouvelle vogue” of transnational cooperation’ (Cugusi and Stocchiero, 2012), which has also been depicted as a new ‘tool of European integration’ (Dubois et al., 2009, p. 9; see also Bellini and Hilpert, 2013).2
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