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Handbook on Cohesion Policy in the EU

Handbook on Cohesion Policy in the EU

Edited by Simona Piattoni and Laura Polverari

This Handbook covers all major aspects of EU Cohesion policy, one of the most significant areas of intervention of the European Union. Over five parts, It discusses this policy’s history and governing principles; the theoretical approaches from which it can be assessed; the inter-institutional and multi-level dynamics that it tends to elicit; its practical implementation and impact on EU member states; its interactions with other EU policies and strategies; and the cognitive maps and narratives with which it can be associated. An absolute must for all students of the EU.

Chapter 6: Quality of government, regional autonomy and Cohesion policy allocations to EU regions

Nicholas Charron

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public policy, urban and regional studies, regional studies


Fostering economic cohesion among the regions of the European Union (EU) is a primary policy goal of the EU Commission, and since the mid-1970s Structural Funds have been used as a key policy tool to achieve this goal. Although Structural Fund grants to regions have relatively clear criteria – namely, the level of economic development and structural factors such as unemployment – several scholars have highlighted an empirical puzzle: there is wide variation among regional allocation of funds that can be explained by factors other than economic ones. This chapter builds on this recent literature that has elucidated many political-institutional variables and adds an alternative explanation as to why certain regions receive more structural fund grants on average – the level of state capacity, or ‘quality of government’ (QoG). The chapter finds that even when controlling for standard economic and political factors, QoG explains significant regional variation in grant allocation, and the effect of QoG is even more pronounced as regions have more political and fiscal autonomy. This finding highlights a strategic dynamic between the three actors – regional, national and European Commission – in the multilevel negotiations for appropriations of Structural Fund grants to EU regions.

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