Full text: Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - 2018 Heft 2 (2)

ber States. Peripheral countries fear being left behind and do not like the
idea of multiple standards. On the other hand, some argue that a „multi-
speed Europe“ could encourage cherry-picking and be the first step in giv-
ing up the idea of Europe as a single, common project. To some extent, in-
tegration at different speeds is already happening. The Eurozone, the
Schengen-Area and the European Economic Area represent frameworks
of different stages of integration.1
3. EU Regional Development Policies and Convergence
The integration of different markets and policy frameworks is supposed
to go hand in hand with economic convergence. However, this is not al-
ways the case, which is one reason for the strategic targeting of weaker re-
gions by the EU. In the following section, we will first provide an overview
of funds available for EU development policies and examine the recent
evolution of EU-wide convergence in order to ground the concept of a
„multi-speed Europe“ in economic realities. One of the central goals of the
European Union is to create economic cohesion by improving economic
well-being and fostering development in all regions. Especially structurally
weak and poor regions are supported with the aim of limiting regional dis-
parities. In order for this to be achieved, the European Union relies on tar-
geted policy instruments aimed at levelling economic divergences be-
tween countries and regions. Development is measured in terms of GDP
per capita, giving rise to three categories of regions: „more developed“
(with GDP per capita over 90% of the EU average), „transition“ (between
75% and 90%), and „less developed“ (less than 75%).
There are five major funds available to different categories of regions,
which together account for about one third of the EU budget: the Regional
Development Fund (ERDF) and the Social Fund (ESF) can be accessed
by all regions, whereas the Cohesion Fund (ECF) makes up an additional
source of financing only accessible to less developed and transition re-
gions. There are two supplementary, specialised funds: the Maritime and
Fisheries Fund (EMFF), reserved for funding the Common Fisheries Pol-
icy of EU MS, and the Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD),
which makes part of the common agricultural policy and has spatial tar-
gets, such as strengthening the competitiveness of the agricultural sector
and improving the quality of life in rural areas. Finally, the Youth Employ-
ment Initiative fund is designed to offer targeted assistance in regions
where unemployment of young people is most acute (exceeding 25%).
In this section, we mostly address the first three funds, which together
contribute to the Convergence Objective (previously known as Objective 1)
of the Cohesion policy of the EU.
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44. Jahrgang (2018), Heft 2 Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft
        

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