The Eastern Enlargement and the Political Rationale of the EU Regional Policy: The Case of Hungary and the Implementation of the Partnership Principle
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Magister)Student thesis
This paper addresses the so-called political rationale of the European Union’s (EU) regional policy in the context of the forthcoming eastern enlargement. The political rationale emphasises a particular type of organisation, involving multiple layers of governance and actors. This organisation is considered important in effectively reducing regional disparities. Regarding the great amount of EU regional funding the candidate states in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) are expected to receive upon accession, capable institutions and structures for handling these funds are vital. Also, it is a crucial part of the EU’s accession criteria. By using Hungary and the implementation of the partnership principle as a case study, the process of preparing for the regional funds in CEE is investigated in-depth. A policy analysis of the cohesion between EU policy objectives and the Hungarian implementation process of the partnership principle serves as the overall basis for the analysis. In order to analyse and understand the implementation process, Historical Institutionalism (HI) is applied as a theoretical framework. It contributes by assessing the factors affecting the implementation process and thus, policy coherence. A triangulation of data consisting of interviews with Hungarian officials and EU Member State experts involved in the implementation of partnership practices, primary and secondary texts as well as basic statistics is made against the propositions formulated through HI.
In turn, a number of analytical findings have been discovered. Firstly, the policy process is seen as highly constrained by formal and informal institutional factors, created by historical policy legacies. These have shaped the goals and preferences of the actors involved and have also privileged certain groups over others. In turn, path-dependency is noticed. Secondly, this has made policy cohesion rather weak, with certain short-term requirements being fulfilled but with a lack of more in-depth, long-term measures. Thus, there is a mismatch between the EU and the Hungarian regional policy organisation. Thirdly, although the formal institutional mechanisms for change are rather rigid, indications of informal mechanisms providing possibilities of institutional change were found, with some actors adapting to the EU enlargement context. This could lead to partnership practises gradually infiltrating some ofthe institutional and organizational features and in turn, become strengthened through the multi-level governance structure of the EU. Yet, implementation of the partnership principle is identified as a long and open process, with the real challenges arriving as Hungary enters the EU
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ekonomiska institutionen , 2003. , 105 p.
International Master's Programme in International and European Relations, 2003:2
Social sciences, EU, eastern enlargement, regional policy, partnership principle, Hungary, historical institutionalism
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-1734OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-1734DiVA: diva2:19060