references. In other cases, Hopkins picks the important authors, but not their key
works (such as two papers by Ron Watts instead of Comparing Federal Systems, a
paperbyTanja B˛rzel instead of States an d Regions in the European Union, oron Ger-
many a paper by Charlie Je¡ery but not his edited collection Recasting G erman
Federalism). He manages to mis-cite a seminal work by KCWheare,calling it Fed-
eralis m rather than Fed eral Government,andoverlookslargepartsoftheliteratureon
comparative federal ism. The list of references rather resembles a grab-bag ofwhat
Hopkins happened to come across rather than a systematic bibliography. This
shortcoming is especially noticeable in Part 1, which cannot live up to the ambi-
tions Hopkins h as for it, but recurs to a lesser degree throughout the book.
There arealso problemswith what is potentially the most useful material in the
book, the accounts of regional or sub-national government in the various states.
Sometimes it takes a long time for Hopkins to identify an essential feature of a
system, without which the rest makes l ittle sense (such as the fact that the compe -
tences of the various orders of government in the Belgian system are each exclu-
sive as an explanation of the need for the various Belgian governments to
co-operate). Studentswho do not readwith absolute concentration may miss such
key points and so fail to grasp how such systems work. In some cases, Hopkins
makes sweeping and tendentious generalisations with neither analysis nor refer-
ence to support them. In others, questionable generalisations are qual i¢ed a few
pages later, leaving the reader i n doubt about the clarity of Hopkins’s thinking. In
a small number of cases, there are errors of fact (examples include the nature of
delegations to the executive within the National Assembly for Wales, p 175,
describing the baseline for allocating funding to the UK devolved administra-
tions under the Barnett formula as deriving from 1979 needs-based criteria,when
those criteriawere in fact ignored and a historic baseline used, p 227, and omission
of reference to the 1999 Federal Constitutional Court case about ¢nancial equal-
isation in discussions about Germany, p 92 and chapter 9). Some of these may be
attributable to the fact that Hopkins has relied heavily on material available in
English (though there are also some references in French), not commentaries
from the countries he is comparing. Some may be due to the fact that the book
is based on a PhD thesis which has been incompletely updated for publication.
Others may be attributable to the lackof proper editorial work by the publishers.
Whatever the cause, they seriously undermine the book’s credibility on other
points, and its usefulness to readers.
This is aggravated by the way the author attempts to build his factual material
into a broader theoretical framework. The key concept for Hopkins is ‘regional
autonomy’,a nd the discussion throughout the book of what helps or impedes th is
is well done if not entirely systematic. However, Hopkins also ascribes a norma-
tivevalue to regionalautonomy^ itbeing good, and anypower (especiallythat of
the centralstate) that interferes with it bad ^ that is unexamined and unexplained.
The result is that the book has a polemical character that undermines its under-
lying subject-matter, as one of the characteristics of European regionalism is that
it represents a confusing picture of forms of government that di¡use power in a
variety of ways and accommodate themselves to a variety of legal and political
principles. Regionalism can be seen as being not simply about delivering far-
reaching autonomy to‘stateless nations’ like Scotland or Catalonia but also about
157rThe Modern LawReview Limited 2005