There is a growing need for regional governance in Western European countries. Unitary states and nations like the Netherlands, France and England do not (yet) have fully fledged, general purpose intermediate governments that can fulfil this need. This article reviews the institutional arrangements for regional governance in the countries mentioned. The existing arrangements turn out to have a great deal in common and show comparable flaws. Drawing on experience from France and the Netherlands, and against the background of the debate on elected Regional Assemblies in England, the article reflects on the need for an autonomous regional government and the requirements it has to meet. © 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd.