Handbook on Cohesion Policy in the EU
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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.
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Chapter 17: Cohesion policy in the rich central regions

Jörg Balsiger


This chapter provides an overview and analysis of the role of Cohesion policy (CP) in seven of the wealthiest member states of the European Union (EU): Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Although CP funding is negligible and decreasing relative to national gross domestic product, the chapter shows that CP has nonetheless influenced regional and national trajectories during the past 25 years. The trajectories also confirm what cross-national and country studies have long suggested, namely that uniform CP procedures have never been achieved and that CP implementation has varied considerably throughout the EU. Despite significant differences between the seven countries, they are all highly industrialised, have used more Objective 2 than Objective 1 funding, are for the most part coordinated market economies, and have been net contributors to the Community budget with a strong interest in efficient and effective CP spending. Three common problems these countries face in CP implementation relate to partnership, absorption and administrative procedures. Overall, because CP funding is very small in relative terms, it generally does not achieve the critical mass of funding necessary to really change administrative procedures. On the positive side, this means that CP programmes and projects are implemented relatively smoothly. On the negative side, it means that innovative approaches, especially in evaluation, are often slow to make inroads.

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