Term Paper: European Union Regional Policy

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European Union Regional Policy

The European Union -- EU although among the most affluent regions of the world, is marked by strange income inequalities at the internal level and opportunity between its different regions. The inclusion into its fold of 12 new member nations since 2004 with incomes far lower compared to the EU average, has stretched the difference. Hence, setting up of a regional policy will help transfer resources from the rich to the poor areas. It is not only a mode of financial cohesion, but also a strong force with regard to economic forms of integration as well. Foraging a regional policy in the EU will help in the solidarity as the policy is targeted to benefit citizens and areas which are economically and socially disadvantaged as against the averages of EU. Besides, it will also ensure cohesion as imminent positive benefits will accrue for everybody in narrowing the income and wealth differences between the poorer nations and regions as also those who are better off. There are huge differences in levels of affluence between and within member states. The ten major dynamic areas of the EU were marked by a level of affluence, calculated by GDP per capital that was almost thrice higher compared to the ten least developed areas. The most prosperous areas are all urban areas that include London, Brussels and Hamburg. (Overview of the European Union activities regional policies, 2007)

The vibrant impact of EU membership, in concert with an enthusiastic regional policy has brought practical results. The case in point is Ireland. it's GDP that was about 64% of the EU average at the time it had joined in the year 1973 is nowadays considered to be one of be maximum in the complete Union. With regard to the important post-2004 main concerns of framing of a regional policy is to enhance the living standards in the new member states to nearer to that of EU average as early as possible. The EU had managed a healthy regional development policy since 1975, relocating funds from the well heeled member states to poorer nations and regions through the EU's structural funds. Spending from these funds was responsible for nearly a third of the EU budget in the period from 2000-2006. Among the larger beneficiaries were nations like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Southern Italy and the eastern region of Germany. The EU has used the entry of these member states to reorganize and restructure its regional spending for which the new rules are applicable for the period from 2007 till 2013. (Overview of the European Union activities regional policies, 2007)

It is during this period that the regional spending is proposed to climb to 36% of the budgetary provisions of EU which translated in cash terms amounts to spending of over seven years of 308 billion euros. The primary objective is promotion of growth enhancing stipulations for the overall EU economy and focus on three objectives of convergence, competitiveness and cooperation. The recent approach is called as Cohesion Policy. The joining of the comparatively poor new nation members implies that the main concentration in the forthcoming period will be on them and the areas of the other EU states having special needs. Based on the present estimates, the 12 newly admitted nations will get 51% of the net regional spending in the years between 2007 and 2013 regardless of their representation being less than a quarter of the total population. (Overview of the European Union activities regional policies, 2007)

EU policies are just as workable solution since the member states are keen to render them. Member states stand spanning the policy process impacting the quality of policies shaped in Brussels and their consequence as they are implemented in Europe. Their wishes and their points of agreements and the priorities blend to constitute potent forces in designing the EU policy. The dynamics of EU policymaking lies on the axis on a search for consensus among the member nations. The agreements can be increasingly indefinable at the time when member states have extensively different traditions or practices appropriate to the policy sphere. The greater diverse the behaviors to be regulated, the more hard it becomes to design transparent regulations. (Roberts; Springer, 2001, p. 27)

In case the policymaking happens to be collective action followed by the member states, policy implementation will be an individual action by them, and that action is given color by the individual country's independent culture and legal system. As their individual action are purportedly to deliver homogeneous results, the differences and resemblances among the member states thus come to be important factors to regard in the study of the EU regional policy. The research professionals who took part in a vital study of EU regional policy consented that every member states has in place its own independent pattern of execution emanating from the norms linked with executing national laws. (Roberts; Springer, 2001, p. 27)

The requirement for a European regional policy has evolved with the integration process and the broadening of the Union as regards terms of relationships. The Werner Report in 1971 backed the movement towards economic and monetary union by 1980, and observed that continuous regional disparities within the EU would weaken the achievement of the European Monetary Union. Besides, apprehension was also allayed that added integration would really itself trigger more disparities between the central and peripheral areas. Thus was necessary to execute to regional policy for promoting convergence among the European regions and to guarantee that EU integration would not create any fears as some regions would be excluded. Such an apprehension regarding rising disparities came to be brighter with the accession of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom in 1973 that was immediately followed by the building of the European Regional Development Fund --ERDF in 1975. The EC considers its regional policy not as mere transfers but instead as a tool to underpin the economic base of the recipient areas and to foster regional convergence. (Bouvet, 2006, pp: 3-4)

The Regional policy, which is creation of the EU's acknowledgment of the economic disparities between its central and peripheral areas which was known as the European Community, has risen in political and economic significance from the beginning of 1975. Since the very beginning, the Regional Policy was planned not just to minimize regional economic variations, but to strengthen regional and nationals support for European integration in general as well so as to foster cohesion both to the EU as also its regions. During the initial decade of the Regional Policy, the EU gave funds to the member state governments, and these state authorities were determined as regards the best ways in which to make application of the money with some constraints. The Commission acted in its entirety as a funding body. Changes during 1988 established the ideals of partnership in governance. (Wilson, 2000, p. 34)

In fact, this reform gave a powerfully homogeneous regulatory perspective in very diverse national contexts by demanding that the commission, national governments and the authorities at sub-national levels cooperate in the design and execution of the EU regional programs in short as also long terms. This restructuring was a holistic endeavor to usher the regional authorities in as active partners if not equal partners with the EU and their state governments to lower the regional variations throughout Europe. It looked forward to make the action of the EC more transparent in the member states, as a reaction to the felt absence of accountability in the EU's democratic deficit. Therefore the commission decided to get local actors in the decision making that is important to regional development. The reforms were also planned to guarantee that the national governments were utilizing the EU money as a supplement and not as replacement for the national development funding. During the later part of 1990, this became to be called in Eurospeak as the problem of 'additionally' i.e. EU regional funding must never be expended instead of national funds, but as a supplement to them. (Wilson, 2000, p. 34)

The regional policy varies in a lot of respects from other policy areas on the social agenda of the European Community -- EC. For instance, it is the sole policy on which funds is required to be disbursed in favor of its clients and it happens to be the only one in case of which the EC has made a new institution, the Committee of the Regions. In a lot of aspects, nevertheless, regional policy adjusts to the profile of other policy areas on the social agenda front. It has been built to fulfill the social requirements and it joins the EC with its citizens. Hence, a successful regional policy would help in the enhancement of the social legitimacy of the EC. The framing of the EC regional policy caters to several objectives i.e. political, economic and social. Its beginning originates from the economic model of the 1950s and also the 1960s as also from the political bargains… [END OF PREVIEW]

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