Efficient implementers and partners
what do we miss in our understanding of how cohesion policy administrators work?

  • ELG
Category: book chapter
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2016
In book: EU Cohesion policy: Reassessing performance and direction (Regions and Cities)


In the existing literature on cohesion policy, domestic state officials are frequently viewed as one of the main drivers of inefficient implementation. State officials are portrayed as driven by their narrow strategic interests, unfamiliar with or resisting the EU norms and rules or merely lacking capacities. This contribution challenges these explanations of 'bureaucratic menace', shallow socialization and low capacities of cohesion policy-makers on the grounds. Drawing on the interpretive approach that reconstructs actors' beliefs and understandings of the EU requirements and norms and applying it to the case of implementation of the EU partnership principle in four CEE member states, the contribution argues that state officials are not as obstructive as they are viewed. The chapter traces the roles of deeply entrenched and historically crystallized beliefs about democracy and organization of citizens' participation shared by state officials across four countries - Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and Slovenia on how state officials interpret and, consequently, practice partnership with societal actors for disbursement of European Structural Funds. The empirical results, thus, challenge existing accounts of success/failure and (un)democratic character of governance practices in the CEE member states. 


Andrey Demidov, ACCESS EUROPE postdoc and contributor to the ELG research theme.


Demidov, A. (2016) 'Efficient implementers and partners: what do we miss in our understanding of how cohesion policy administrators work?' In Bachtler, J., Berkowitz, P., Hardy, S. and Muravska, T. (eds), 'EU cohesion policy: Reassessing performance and direction (Regions and Cities). Routledge Press.

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