Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

European Cohesion Policy: A Proposed Evaluation Model

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

European Cohesion Policy: A Proposed Evaluation Model

Article excerpt

Abstract: The current approach of European Cohesion Policy (ECP) is intended to be a bridge between different fields of study, emphasizing the intersection between "the public policy cycle, theories of new institutionalism and the new public management". ECP can be viewed as a focal point between putting into practice the principles of the new governance theory, theories of economic convergence and divergence and the governance of common goods. After a short introduction of defining the concepts used, the author discussed on the created image of ECP by applying three different theories, focusing on the structural funds implementation system (SFIS), directing the discussion on the evaluation part of this policy, by proposing a model of performance evaluation of the system, in order to outline key principles for creating effective management mechanisms of ECP.

Keywords: Cohesion, structural funds implementation system, efficiency, public policy, governing the commons, new governance, principal - agent

Introduction to the Research Field

The first concept used that requires more attention is cohesion, which assumes various inequalities related to the living standard, income, access to resources, opportunities, etc. Economic/social convergence is a long term process, which reflects the ability of economic groups to be competitive. In the European context, we can identify another effect related to the disproportionate distribution of benefits/resources of EU integration, in order to dispose/ recover economic disparities/social differences between regions, to create a competitive framework between regions. As already anticipated, the cohesion concept includes three aspects: economic, social and territorial cohesion.

Measuring the social/economical cohesion by the convergence concept explains the way of attaining a certain limit, even if that limit is a point, a function or a value1, and the perspective of reducing the economical disparities seems to be the closest image of the concept used in ECP' s context. Having all this in mind, these concepts are not identical, economical convergence is only one part of the ECP' s objectives, among regional competitivness and cross-border cooperation2. So, the cohesion concept does not involve only the mathematical relations of certains indicators, but also the idea of generating a certain competitive behaviour between different units.

Other key concepts are that of region and regional disparity. The concept of region is quite extensive with multiple connotations, in the foreground, a spatial component, referring to a given territory, whose boundaries can be defined historically, culturally, religiously, statistically, etc. For ECP, the region is statistically defined by the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NTUS) - Level II. Taking into consideration the sociological definition of the region, regional policy implies not only reducing economic and social disparities, but also the development of harmonious relations between these spaces and groups located in a certain area and across territorially defined groups. "Regional policy covers all areas that affect the normal functioning of a social group in a given space, whether it is economic, social, cultural, demographic, administrative, and ecological."3

Another concept of this approach comes from the sphere of management and relates the performance management of organization/institutions/policies, thus outlining the management system of implementing the ECP. It can be defined as "a set of elements whose nature can be decisional, organizational, informational, motivational, etc. through which all relationships and management processes are exerted in order to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency"4. This definition can be applied with some ammendaments detailed in the following sections to all areas of the ECP.

Also, the concept of efficiency is defined by a high absorption capacity as well as the ability to effectively distribute the resources in order to achieve objectives set in strategic programming documents. …

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