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Who governs EU cohesion policy? deconstructing the reforms of the structural funds

Bachtler, John and Mendez, C. (2007) Who governs EU cohesion policy? deconstructing the reforms of the structural funds. Journal of Common Market Studies, 45 (3). pp. 535-564. ISSN 1468-5965

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Abstract

This article re-assesses the multi-level governance debate and specifically the 'renationalization thesis', with respect to EU cohesion policy. It focuses on two of the principles of decision-making under the structural funds: concentration (decisions on where the money is spent) and programming (decisions on how it is spent). The analysis takes a longitudinal approach, examining each of the policy phases from 1988 until the recent debate on the 2007-13 period. The article concludes that the role of national governments (relative to the European Commission) in key decisions on the implementation of cohesion policy has been exaggerated in the literature and that important arguments underpinning the 'renationalization thesis' are flawed.