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The Dissension over the Logic of European Cohesion Policy. The Core-Periphery Divide and the Impact on European Integration


Europa XXI 38 (2020)


Magone, José M. : Autor Affiliation



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European Union ; European cohesion policy ; intergovernmentalism ; methodological nationalism ; methodological Europeanism ; core-periphery in EU


This article seeks to trace the growing dissension over the logic of European cohesion policy. Two perspectives are fighting for dominance, the European and the national. Only the European Commission and the European Parliament are actively promoting the European logic, which has gained ground over time through the overarching strategization (or Lisbonization) of European policies. In contrast, the memberstates subscribe to a national logic concerning European cohesion policy. This outlook is particularly notable among the ‘friends of cohesion policy’, a group that includes the southern, central, and eastern European countries. The funding allocated through the EU is applied in individual national markets, not in the single European market. In this regard, the concept of European cohesion policy to adjust national markets towards the European level has been sidelined by the national logic. This contribution attempts to reconstruct the dispute over the purpose of European cohesion policy since the reform of structural funds in 1988, focusing primarily on the latest rounds of negotiations over the multiannual financial framework (in which cohesion policy funds are a central issue) and the emerging conflict between the core and the periphery in the political economy of the European Union. If the European logic regarding the single European market’s construction does not prevail, European integration will stagnate or even reverse, and national compartmentalization of cohesion policy may become the dominant spatial model in Europe.


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