EU-China and EU-Brazil cross-national policy transfer and learning : the case of regional development policy

Musialkowska, Ida and Dabrowski, Marcin and Polverari, Laura (2014) EU-China and EU-Brazil cross-national policy transfer and learning : the case of regional development policy. In: Regional Studies Association's Global Conference 2014, 2014-04-27 - 2014-04-30, Brazil.

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Abstract

This paper investigates the EU-Brazil and EU-China dialogue on regional development policy, as a field of international cooperation. Policy transfer in this area is still relatively under-researched and is a puzzling case for a number of reasons: first, regional policy is inward-oriented, as it targets the catching up of regions with prevailing national economic and social standards; second, as a place-based policy, regional policy is intrinsically context-specific, as both policy responses and outcomes are connected to the unique situation of each given territorial reality; third, its distributive (and often redistributive) nature make regional policy reliant on complex multi-level governmental negotiations; lastly, its strategic goals, thematic scope and financial scale are largely affected by the national levels of economic development, which differ vastly between the Western world and the emerging economies. This background notwithstanding, knowledge exchange and policy transfer have successfully taken place between the EU and Brazil and between the EU and China since the mid- 2000s. This has happened through institutionalized, concrete activities, which have delivered tangible outcomes on the regional policy frameworks of Brazil and China. This study discusses and compares the reasons for engagement in such unlikely policy learning effort; identifies the mechanism of policy transfer and their degree of institutionalization; and reflects on the conditions that have made this case of policy diffusion more or less successful, drawing comparative lessons from the two experiences. The study is based on semistructured interviews, surveys, participant observation and informal exchanges during high-level seminars (EUChina, EU-Brazil) and analyses of strategic documents and legislation.