European Union Cohesion Policy and the (Re-) Production of Centrality and Peripherality through Soft Spaces with Fuzzy Boundaries

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Abstract The paper discusses the co-evolution of the mode of governance of the European Union (EU) and the rationale of EU Cohesion Policy. It is argued that the process of European integration has led to the challenging situation of heightened complexity of decision-making at the EU level under the community method. As a consequence, consensus-seeking deliberation and policy-experimentation are becoming increasingly important in EU governance. In this context, the paper argues that the alignment of Cohesion Policy with the EU 2020 objectives of smart, inclusive, and sustainable growth may be explained by a shift toward a post-political mode of multi-level meta-governance. Adopting Neil Brenner´s spatialized version of Bob Jessop´s strategic-relational approach, the paper analyzes EU Cohesion Policy as a spatial strategy and spatial project in the period from 1988 to 2014+. The main finding is that EU territoriality is markedly different from the territorial arrangement of the Keynesian-Welfare-National-State. Crucially, EU territoriality appears more flexible and issue driven, which is interpreted as a consequence of a more experimental way of decision-making at the EU level. Future research will use the framework developed in this paper to investigate effects of the making of this soft European space on the (re-) production of socio-spatial polarization in Central and Eastern Europe.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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