Beyond Accession in Central and Eastern Europe
Edited by Agnes Batory, Andrew Cartwright and Diane Stone
Chapter 6: EU cohesion policy and the Eastern member states: A case of transnational policy convergence
In order to maximize access to the funds of the European Union (EU)’s cohesion policy, central governments have to adapt their regional development policies to EU regulations. This chapter traces this process of policy transfer in two Eastern member states, the Czech Republic and Hungary, since the early 1990s. The chapter shows that, in spite of the different initial conditions, the regional policies of both countries have converged over time while flexibly responding to the changing EU requirements. However, it was not the EU’s influence but domestic political interests that shaped policy convergence. The chapter demonstrates that similar policy responses can be adopted under the same external stimuli even when domestic circumstances differ and the external influence is not coercive. This also reveals the limitations of the EU in triggering domestic policy changes: in the absence of highly specified supranational legal requirements, member states are free to translate external expectations according to their own interests.
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