Criticism on multi-level governance theory


Many of the problems associated with multi-level governance revolve around the notion of levels. The very idea of levels and levels of analysis is imbued with hierarchical implications. However, different levels or social spaces often interact or cut across with one another in complex ways that are not strictly hierarchical. To what extent can 'levels' be identified at all? The notion that international bodies constitute a discrete level of authority and governance is contestable. International regulatory networks may not be separate sources of authority but instead represent the reconstitution of state authority and the pursuit of state-level governance by other means. While territorial levels make sense when we are referring to public forms of authority, they seem less compatible with private and market forms of authority.

Another criticism on the theory of multi-level governance is that it's not really a proper theory, rather that it is an approach. The main difference between multi-level governance and other theories of integration is that it gets rid of the continuum or grey area between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism and leaves in its place a descriptive structure. This theory does not address the sovereignty of states directly, but instead simply says that a multi-level structure is being created by subnational and supranational actors. One of the main questions of integration theory, namely, the transfer of loyalty and sovereignty between national and supranational entities and the future of this relationship in the EU is not specifically addressed in this theory.

The identification of partial political measures and general macroeconomics is divided on diverse decisional levels. National governments maintain an important decisional role but the control unlocalizes at supranational level. Individual national sovereignty is dilated in this decisional process and the supranational institutions have an autonomic role.