Though it is largely forgotten today, there was during the late 80s
and early 90s a vigorous debate in numerous sectors of European life
about whether the EU would be best structured as a Union of Regions or
as a Union of States.
Adherents of the first posture hoped and believed that the goal the
then still-emerging Union should be to greatly lessen the importance of
existing national boundaries and governments and to promote, or at least
not stand in the way of, the emergence of new economic and social
regions. For example, since the Galician region of Spain shares much in
the way of language culture and geography with neighboring northern
Portugal, it should, according to this outlook, be free to loosen
existing bonds with far-away Madrid and direct more of its resources and
infrastructural aims toward forging economic and social integration
with nearby and traditionally dynamic Oporto.
This, of course, frightened the proponents of a Europe of States, who
quite rightly saw such developments as a threat to dramatically
diminish the prerogatives of existing governments.
For reasons that are too numerous to examine fully here, but that
include bureaucratic inertia, and the desire of an always meddling US to
have the ability to play states off against each other both within a
dramatically-expanded NATO and the EU as a whole, the idea of the Europe
of Regions was eventually bludgeoned into insignificance by the
proponents of a Europe of the States.
Yet, for all their success in neutering the practical day-to-day
effects of a Europe of Regions, the proponents of the Europe of States
were unable to fully disable certain institutions, such as the European
Parliament and the European Court of Justice, forged and/or strengthened
in the early years of the EU, and whose structure implicitly militated
against the continuing weight and hegemony of state governments within
the overall functioning of the confederation.
For example, while a candidate for the European Parliament nominally
“comes from” one or another member state, voters from any jurisdiction
in the Union can select him or her on the ballot. He or she is thus not
only a representative of, say, Spain and the Spanish citizens, but of
the European people as a whole.