A Policy at War with Itself? State Aid and Regional Cohesion in the EU
Phedon Nicolaides, Arjan Geveke
The entry of ten new countries in the EU raises a number of questions about the need and type of reform of EU policies on cohesion and regional state aid. This paper examines the impact of regional state aid on regional disparities. It finds that the effect of state aid on regional cohesion is ambiguous, partly because state aid is not proportionally granted to the most needy regions. In the context of the forthcoming debate on reform of regional policy it follows that member states should limit the geographic coverage of regional aid and should take into account the possible trade-offs between other types of state aid and regional development or cohesion.
Keywords: Cohesion, regional policy, state aid
The EU Structural and Cohesion Funds: Solution or Smokescreen to Europe’s Regional Disparities?
Dr. Adrian Reilly
The EU has long had a goal of ‘reducing economic and social disparities.’ Since the reforms to the European Structural Funds in 1988 the Commission has encouraged enhanced subnational actor participation in policy-making, although subsequent reforms in 1993 and 1999 have been seen as attempts to ‘renationalize’ the policy. This paper argues that the minimal effect the Funds have had on the ground results not from renationalization but from inherent differences between multilevel actors on one of the key principles of Structural Funding i.e. partnership. The research findings show that whilst intergovernmental mechanisms have not changed since 1988, neither has the acceptance of the need for partnership between national and regional actors, especially in federal or quasi-federal states. The inability of the Funds to reduce disparities and the lack of understanding of partnership both provide lessons for new entrants to the EU: transforming domestic governance arrangements to accommodate the requirements of EU regional funding may only be successful if there are wider understandings of changes in ‘governance’; Europe’s poorer regions have not been able to close the gap with their richer neighbours with the implication that the regions of the Accession States will be in no better position in ten years time than they are now when compared to other regions throughout the EU.
Keywords: European structural funding, multilevel governance, regional disparity
Scotland and Europe, or: Room at the Top for ‘Constitutional Regions’?
Scotland, it is sometimes said, is more Euro-friendly than the rest of Britain. And, yes, some opinion polls would support that. Scotland is slightly more favourably disposed towards the Euro. And outright Euro-scepticism is not as thick on the ground as in the southern parts of England. But the differences are pretty marginal. Scotland’s love for Europe might be more fiction than fact. And yet, as is often the case with myths, it is an important factor in Scottish politics. But the real issue for Scotland and Europe in the immediate future is its representation and participation in the governance of the European Union. With devolution in the UK, Scotland – with its own Parliament and Executive – has been firmly put on the political map of Europe. Together with similarly powered ‘regions’, Scotland’s Parliament and Executive are making their case for an input of the ‘third level’ into a multi-level system of European governance. Is there room at the top for Scotland and the ‘constitutional regions’ of Europe? The answer to this question may play a significant role in determining Scotland’s future: either as an integrated part of both the UK and Europe, or as an ‘independent’ state in the European Union.
Keywords: Convention on the Future of Europe, EU Constitution, globalization, regional partnership
EU Policy Regarding the Competitiveness Issue
This article deals with one of the most important, but also challenging economic issues nowadays, which is economic competitiveness. The literature is not unanimous in recognizing the importance of competitiveness, especially where it concerns the state level. However, the relevance of international competitiveness is increasingly brought into light by theory, specific policy measures and by periodical evaluations made by international organizations. Against this background, the EU is one of the main players whose position is still lagging behind the USA, and, according to recent evaluations, behind the other OECD countries. The European Council in March 2000, held in Lisbon, had launched a very inciting challenge – that of transforming the EU economy into the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, by 2010. Such an ambitious target requires an evaluation of the competitiveness level and also new measures to be taken in order to accomplish this objective.The article presents opinions on the EU competitiveness issue, and on the main weak and strong points, concluding that even the target and especially the schedule seem to be unrealistic, the new direction of action, i.e. towards better business conditions for enterprises being correct.
Keywords: competitiveness, EU competitiveness policy, EU economy, globalization, industrial policy