European Integration, Regional Policy, and Growth

European Integration, Regional Policy, and Growth

European Integration, Regional Policy, and Growth

European Integration, Regional Policy, and Growth

Synopsis

The European Union stands out as one of the regions of the world that has most explicitly and deliberately attempted to reduce regional disparities within its membership. How effective this effort has been is a matter of open debate. The current enlargement of the European Union (EU) to less affluent new members gives rise to a fresh set of questions: • How can the cohesion objective best be advanced in a context where initial income disparities will now be greater? • Will the accession process cause the income of the poorer regions to converge towards EU standards or, to the contrary, will prevailing disparities be exacerbated in the process? • What, if anything, can the new members do about this? What help can they expect from the EU structural funds, and how should the funds be applied to maximize the cohesion objective? To answer these questions, the World Bank, the Bertelsmann Foundation, and the CIDOB Foundation brought together leading scholars, senior policy-makers, and practitioners from existing and new EU member countries, as well as representatives from the European Commission to a conference in Barcelona in October 2002. European Integration, Regional Policy, and Growth presents the results of these discussions.

Excerpt

The European Union (EU) stands out internationally as one of the political units that has most explicitly and deliberately attempted to reduce regional disparities among its constituents. How effective this effort has been, and continues to be, is a matter of open debate. The current enlargement of the EU to less affluent new members gives rise to a fresh set of questions. First, how can the objective of cohesion best be advanced in a context in which initial income disparities among the members of the enlarged EU will be greater? Will the accession cause the income of the poorer regions to converge toward EU standards, or, on the contrary, will prevailing disparities be exacerbated? What, if anything, can the new members do, and how should the expected EU structural funds be applied to maximize the cohesion objective? How can a new concept of solidarity for the enlarged Union be developed? Enlargement will present new challenges and raise questions as to whether the existing system of mutual support through structural and cohesion funds can be financed in the future, at least at current levels.

To elucidate these questions, the World Bank, the Bertelsmann Foundation, and the CIDOB Foundation (Barcelona) brought together leading scholars, senior policymakers, and practitioners from existing and new EU member countries, as well as representatives from the European Commission, to a conference in Barcelona in October 2002. This book presents the results of their discussions. Opinions presented by participants have in most cases been made in their personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the institutions they represent. Drawing on the experience of existing EU members and the latest developments in growth theory . . .

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