Regions and Cities Governance Lab (Re-LAB)

No longer is the autonomous nation-state the only actor in the international sphere. Actors at the supra- and sub-national levels now have a say in the domains previously monopolised by states, shaping and influencing matters of trade, politics, migration, humanitarian action, and security, to name but a few.

On the supranational level, the wave of “new regionalism” that began in the 1980s and 1990s has led to the formation of various new regional organisations that vary, in some cases significantly, in terms of size, scope and effectiveness. Underpinning this is the fact that regions across the globe are very diverse, hosting different cultures, political systems and in some cases troubled neighbourhood histories, which tends to determine the level of institutionalisation, whether integration is deep or shallow, and their overall effectiveness. In some cases, there is overlap between regional organisations, adding a further constraint to their capabilities. Regions are also dynamic, best illustrated by the recent bouts of disintegration such as Brexit, highlighting that they remain vulnerable to increasing nationalist sentiment in many states. Despite these challenges, the globalised world we live in demands international, regional and, at the very least, cross-border cooperation to tackle issues such as climate change, pandemics, and sudden and sharp economic downturns, reinforcing their importance in addressing our collective challenges. 

At the other end of the multi-level governance structure are substate regions and cities, both of which are growing in importance and stature on the international stage in recent decades. This is best exemplified by the U.S. state of California ranking as the sixth largest economy in the world, ahead of India, the UK and France, with other U.S. and Chinese regions entering the top 20. Further down the governance scale, cities are increasingly behaving like international actors, forming cross-border partnerships, organising transnational networks, and engaging with international organisations in their pursuit of objectives related to, for instance, climate change and migration.

The Regions and Cities Governance Lab focuses on the institutional dynamics of regions. It aims to explore the capacity and actorness of the governance levels beyond the nation-state, and their evolution as new actors in the international sphere, as is the case with substate regions and cities, or as actors under stress and in need of reform, in the case of regional organisations. This cluster considers the world itself as a laboratory of continuous institutional adaptation.

Current streams of research within the Regions and Cities Governance Lab include:

  • the conceptualisation of regions
  • the methodological aspects of comparative regionalism studies
  • the institutional dynamics of regions and regional organizations
  • multi-level governance
  • interregionalism and extra-regional actorness of regions
  • the international actorness of sub-state regions and cities
  • the regionalisation and localisation of SDGs
  • Unit on Non-Traditional Diplomacy (UNTRAD)


Competing through Culture. Comparing the EU’s and Russia’s Cultural Diplomacies in the Post-Soviet Space

  • PhD Fellow: Domenico Valenza
  • Promotor: Fabienne Bossuyt
  • Funding: BOF Ghent University (UNU-CRIS label)
    • 1 January 2019 – 31 December 2022

The Shared Neighbourhood between the EU and Russia: From Conflictual towards Cooperative Regional Orders

  • PhD Fellow: Louise Amoris
  • Promotor: Fabiienne Bossuyt
  • Funding: BOF Ghent University (UNU-CRIS label)
    • 1 January 2021 - 31 December 2024

EU Conflict Mediation in its Wider Neighbourhood: Mapping and Explaining the EU’s Incoherent Involvement in Peace-Making

  • PhD Fellow Katsiaryna Lozka
  • Promotors: Fabienne Bossuyt and Tim Haesebrouck
  • Funding: BOF Ghent University
    • 1 November 2020 - 31 October 2024

Handbook on Regional Cooperation and Integration

  • Editor: Philippe De Lombaerde, Edward Elgar Publishers, 2020-2021

Special Issue on Disintegrations

  • Editors: Philippe De Lombaerde and Andrew Dunn, Comentario Internacional, 2021.

Completed Projects

El CSID: European Leadership in Culture, Science and Innovation Diplomacy

  • Scientific Coordinator: Luk Van Langenhove
  • Project Researchers: Léonie Maes, Elke Boers and Riccardo Trobbiani
  • Partners: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, The University of Warwick, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, The Euro-Mediterranean University, The Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques, the Joint Institute for Innovation Policy, The Graduate School of Public Policy at Nazarbayev University and The National University of Singapore.
  • Funding: European Commission, Horizon 2020, March 2016 – February 2019

Book Project on The Changing Order – Challenges and Prospects

  • Editors: Madeleine Hosli and Joren Selleslaghs, UNU Series on Regionalism, Vol. 17, Springer, 2020

Parliamentary Deliberation in Inter-Regional Relations (PADIRE): An Analysis of Climate Change Debates in the EU’s Parliamentary Assemblies with the ACP, the Mediterranean, Latin America and the Eastern Neighbourhood Regions

  • Researcher: Reinhilde Bouckaert
  • Promotors: Sarah Delputte and Sebastian Oberthür
  • Funding: UNU-CRIS, 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019

Book Project on Global and Regional Leadership of BRICS Countries

  • Edited by Stephen Kingah and Cintia Quiliconi, UNU Series on Regionalism, Vol. 11, Springer, 2016.
  • Funding: GR:EEN Project, European Commission

Book Project on The European Union’s Engagement with Transnational Policy Networks

  • Editors: Stephen Kingah, Vivien Schmidt and Wang Yong, Routledge, 2016.

GR:EEN: Global Re-Ordering: Evolution through European Networks

  • Partners: Coordinator: the University of Warwick (UK) and involved UNU-CRIS (Belgium), Universiteit van Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Copenhagen Business School (Denmark), Central European University (Hungary), Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales (Spain), Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (Italy), Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt (Norway), Boston University (USA), University of Cape Town (South Africa), Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (Argentina), Rajaratnam School of International Studies (Singapore), Peking University (China), University of Western Australia (Australia), and Waseda University (Japan).
  • Funding: Seventh Framework Programme / FP7 (European Commission), 2011-2015

Een Gemeenschappelijke Toekomst voor de Zeeuws-Vlaamse Grensregio (A Common Future for the Zeelandic-Flemish Border Region)

Book Project on Intersecting Interregionalism, Regions, Global Governance and the EU

  • Editors: Francis Baert, Tiziana Scaramagli and Fredrik Söderbaum, UNU Series on Regionalism, Vol. 7, Springer, 2014.

Book Project on De Opmars van de Regio’s

  • Author: Luk Van Langenhove, Die Keure, 2014.

Towards a University College in Bruges? A Feasibility Study on Transnational Higher Education Cooperation

  • Researchers: Luk Van Langenhove, Ewout Ramon and Julie Mariën
  • Editor: Andrea Hak
  • Funding: Euregio Scheldemond, 2014

Democracy-building in a Regional Context: Learning from the European Parliament

  • Authors: Georgios Papanagnou, Stephen Kingah and Luk Van Langenhove
    Editors: Andrew Bradley, Anne-Sophie Coppens, Andrea Hak, Aya Kasasa, Stephen Kingah, Georgios Papanagnou and Ewout Ramon
  • Funding: International IDEA, 2014

Book Project on Regionalism

  • Editors: Philippe De Lombaerde and Fredrik Söderbaum, 4 volumes, Sage, 2013.

Book Project on Comparative Regionalisms for Development in the 21st Century: Insights from the Global South

  • Edited by Timothy Shaw, Vanessa Tang and Emmanuel Fanta, Ashgate, 2013.

Book Project on The United Nations and the Regions: Third World Report on Regional Integration

  • Editors: Philippe De Lombaerde, Francis Baert and Tania Felicio, UNU Series on Regionalism, Vol. 3, Springer, 2012

Book Project on Building Regions: The Regionalization of the World Order

  • Author: Luk Van Langenhove, Ashgate, 2011.

Book Project on The European Union and the Global South

  • Editors: Fredrik Söderbaum and Patrik Stalgren, Lynn Rienner Publishers, 2010.

GARNET Network of Excellence on Global Governance, Regionalisation and Regulation: The Role of the EU

  • Researchers: Luk Van Langenhove, Philippe De Lombaerde,  Mary Farrell, Brigid Gavin, Nikki Slocum-Bradley, Ana-Cristina Costea, Francis Baert and Birger Fühne –
  • Partners: The University of Warwick (UK - Coordinator), Aarhus University (Denmark), Cornivus University of Budapest (Hungary), Central European University Budapest Foundation (Hungary), Centre for the Study of Democracy (Bulgaria), Italian National Research Council (Italy), Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques (France), Forum on the Problems of Peace and War (Italy), Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), University of Gothenburg (Sweden), Copenhagen Business School (Denmark), Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Bordeaux (France), Institut Français des Relations Internationales (France), Institute of Social Studies (The Netherlands), Instituto de Estudos Estrategicos e Internacionais (Portugal), Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen (Germany), London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), University of Southern Denmark (Denmark), Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Social Sciences (Sweden), The Evian Group Association (Switzerland), The University of Sheffield (UK), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), The University of Florence (Italy), Sapienza Università di Roma (Italy), Università Degli Studi di Trento (Italy), Universität Bielefeld (Germany), Universität Bremen (Germany), Universität Dortmund (Germany), Universität Kassel (Germany),  Universität Kassel (Gemany), Université de Genève (Switzerland), Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Universiteit Leiden (The Netherlands), Universiteit van Amsterdam (The Netherlands), University of Oslo (Norway), University of Essex (UK), University of Exeter (UK), University of London (UK), University of Wroclaw (Poland), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (Germany) and Wiener Institut für Internationale Wirtschaftsvergleiche (Austria).
  • Funding: Sixth Framework Programme / FP6 (European Commission), June 2005—May 2010

Book Project on The EU and World Regionalism: The Makability of Regions in the 21st Century

  • Editors: Philippe De Lombaerde and Michael Schulz, Ashgate, 2009.
  • Funding: GARNET Project, European Commission

Book Project on Regionalism and Global Governance. The Taming of Globalisation?

  • Editors: Andrew Cooper, Christopher Hughes and Philippe De Lombaerde, Routledge, 2008.
  • Funding: GARNET Project, European Commission

Book Project on Models of Regional Governance for the Pacific

  • Author: Kennedy Graham, Canterbury University Press, 2008.

Book Project on The EU as a Global Player

  • Editors: Fredrik Söderbaum and Luk Van Langenhove, Routledge, 2007.

De Vlaamse Positie ten aanzien van de Benelux naar aanleiding van de vernieuwing van het Benelux-verdrag in opdracht van Inernationaal vlaanderen

  • Researchers: Maarten Vidal, Wouter De Vriendt, Philippe De Lombaerde, Jan Wouters, Luk Van Langenhove
  • Partner: KULeuven
  • Funding: Government of Flanders, 2006.

Book Project on De Benelux: Tijd voor een Wedergeboorte?

  • Authors: Jan Wouters, Luk Van Langenhove, Maarten Vidal, Philippe De Lombaerde and Wouter De Vriendt, Intersentia, 2006.

Book Project on Global Politics of Regionalism: Theory and Practice

  • Editors: Björn Hettne, Luk Van Langenhove and Mary Farrell, Pluto Press, 2005.

Future Perspectives for a Flemish Foreign Policy with Regard to Central and Eastern Europe (in collaboration with University of Antwerp)

  • Researchers: Luk Van Langenhove, Philippe De Lombaerde, Brigid Gavin, Aurora Mordonu, Gundars Ostrovskis
  • Funding: Flemish Government, 2003.

Future Perspectives for a Flemish Foreign Policy with Regard to Wider Europe

  • Researchers: Luk Van Langenhove, Brigid Gavin, Philippe De Lombaerde, Yilmaz Çolak, Ana-Cristina Costea, Aurora Mordonu, Gundars Ostrovskis
  • Funding: Government of Flanders, 2003.

Book Project on Integrating Africa: Perspectives on Regional Integration and Development

  • Editors: Hans van Ginkel, Luk Van Langenhove and Julius Court, United Nations University Press, 2003.

Book Project on European Integration in the 21st Century: Unity in Diversity

  • Editors: Stefano Fella, Michael Newman and Mary Farrell, Sage, 2002.