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UACES 42nd Annual Conference: Old Borders - New Frontiers

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference -Mixed Audience


European cohesion policy makes its financing mechanisms, the Structural Funds(SF), contingent on 'partnership principle' that calls for the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders in regional development. The 'opening-up' of policy-cycle to stakeholders operating outside public bureaucracies generates opportunities for influencing reform agendas by marginalized and politically excluded Roma populations. However, the alleged open access to SF decision-making processes and escalation of political commitments to tackle Roma-exclusion with EU financial instruments has not generated satisfactory outputs. Research on cohesion policy predominately concerns macro-level variation in adjustment of domestic governing structures to European standards and regulations. Less often it investigates whether these adjustments actually improve SF delivery to disadvantaged groups and enhance their abilities to interact with higher authorities. Arguments are based on normative assumptions rather than on empirical evidence, which remains fragmented and thin on the ground. This paper fills this gap by presenting empirical findings, which demonstrate that compliance with EU partnership regulations does not automatically translate into effective, legitimate and equitable administration of SF. It challenges the conventional wisdom of cohesion policy literature that blames policy failure on member states' reluctance to comply with EU regulations and lack of mobilization capacity at the local level. The paper investigates variation in targeting of SF towards Roma-inclusion in two extreme cases, i.e. Spain and Slovakia. Building on policy implementation theory it analyses different types, means and aims of partnership strategies. The semi-structured interviews conducted with major SF stakeholders demonstrate that effective targeting of SF to Roma-inclusion is determined by empowerment strategies promoted by central governments that systematically expand decision-making to non-state actors and construct inter-organizational resource synergies. Such top-down partnership leadership operating in Spain appears to breed more effective SF outputs for marginalized groups than bottom-up initiatives often based on ethnic mobilization and project-based focus in Slovakia

Event (Conference)

TitleUACES 42nd Annual Conference: Old Borders - New Frontiers
LocationUniversity of Passau
Degree of recognitionInternational event