Cohesion Policy and European Integration: Building Multi-Level Governance

Cohesion Policy and European Integration: Building Multi-Level Governance

Cohesion Policy and European Integration: Building Multi-Level Governance

Cohesion Policy and European Integration: Building Multi-Level Governance

Synopsis

This book is a sustained study of cohesion policy in the European Union, which now absorbs one-third of the EU budget. The central question is how policy makers can develop a common European policy, and yet give attention to the variation in practice, institutions, and players in the member states.

Excerpt

This book explores some fundamental questions about governance in the twilight of the centralized Keynesian state by studying the European Union. How does governance change when a common European policy is introduced in member states with highly diverse institutions, political practices, policies, problems, and players? How does it alter politics? the book is written with two different audiences in mind--those who share our fascination with the dynamics of European integration, and those who do not, but who care about the theory and practice of democratic governance in a complex, interdependent world.

But it is most directly written for those who are concerned about the cohesive fabric in a Europe without internal economic borders. This book is about the European Union's self-proclaimed flagship policy to shape a European-wide socio-economic and political fabric: eu cohesion policy. Centred around structural programming, its purpose is to reduce disparities in economic opportunity and welfare among regions in Europe, and it aims to do so by involving--in the words of Jacques Delors--les forces vives throughout Europe, in particular regional and local authorities. Our focus is not so much on the substance and outcome of this policy, but on how this common European policy has affected governance in the different member states. in particular, we are interested in the territorial politics of eu cohesion policy.

We were lucky, because policy-makers set up a quasi-experiment with the 1988 reform of the structural funds. Until then, there was only a minimal common European policy on cohesion. the European Commission wrote a cheque, and each national government largely decided whether to involve subnational authorities in designing and implementing projects. There were twelve different moulds for spending eu money on cohesion policy. the 1988 reform overhauled this minimalist framework. For a national government to get its money, it was now required to design and implement EU-funded programmes in partnership with the European Commission and regional and local authorities, and this also applied to countries where subnational involvement had been weak or absent. the policy designers set up an elaborate structure of co-

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