Perspectives, Measurement and Empirical Investigation
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Robert Stimson, Roger R. Stough and Peter Nijkamp
Chapter 10: Implications of European Union Structural Assistance to New Member States on Regional Disparities: The Question of Absorption Capacity
Daniela Constantin, Zizi Goschin and Gabriela Dragan INTRODUCTION In May 2004 the largest enlargement of the European Union (EU) took place with ten new member states (NMS), mostly from Eastern and Central Europe, joining it. They were then followed by Romania and Bulgaria in January 2007. That expansion of the EU entailed an unprecedentedly high amplitude of inter-regional disparities (Eurostat, 2007), and was of special significance for the cohesion policy in the 2007–13 programming period. In this chapter we discuss the implications of the EU structural assistance to the NMS on regional disparities, special emphasis being placed on the capacity of those states to absorb the allocated funds. First we provide a brief outline of the EU’s economic and social cohesion policy. We then look at the influence of the EU enlargement on that cohesion policy in the 2007–13 programming period, revealing the close links between cohesion and the EU’s regional policy. Next the regional disparities in the NMS within European context are discussed in connection with the contribution of the structural instruments to reducing these disparities. Finally the absorption capacity of the EU funds in the NMS is examined as a precondition for achieving this goal. A particular emphasis is placed on the administrative absorption capacity, considering that the institutional framework created in the NMS for the administration of the EU funds is expected to play a decisive role for their successful and complete integration in the EU structures. That is, the focus is on considering the...
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