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The politics behind the eu cohesion policy Teixeira, Nelson

Abstract

This study explores the importance of cohesion policy to the present and future of the European Union. The goal of cohesion policy is to reduce the economic and social disparities between the richer and poorer member states of the European Union. Cohesion policy provides the 'smaller powers' with hundreds of millions of euros worth of regional aid annually despite constant opposition from the suppliers or donors of this 'string-less cash', the larger and/or wealthier members of the European Union. Given such controversy, the central question of this thesis asks: why do the 'smaller powers' receive so much regional aid and financial redistribution in the form of cohesion policy from the larger and/or wealthier members of the EU? Traditional International Relations theory as well as Theories on European integration has thus far been insufficient in accounting for this central question. This thesis seeks to move beyond current theoretical literature pertaining to European integration and the role of cohesion policy within it. This paper has two major findings. The first argument contends that cohesion policy acts as a 'mechanism of solidarity' thereby promoting the long-term health and growth of the EU. The second argument posits that cohesion policy guarantees a greater role for the Commission, the driving force behind cohesion policy. It is only through the mechanism of solidarity principle and the role of the Commission that one can understand why the coalition of smaller receives so much regional aid in the form of cohesion policy from the larger and/or wealthier members of the E U without seemingly providing anything directly in return. This conclusion is arrived at through an examination of three major case studies: Delors I (1987), Delors U (1992), and Agenda 2000. These 3 cases represent the most significant steps in the process of building the cohesion policy in general and the structural funds in particular.

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