The thesis traces the development, significance and impact of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) from its early conception through its establishment in 1975 to its subsequent administration and reform. The role of regional policy and the development of the ERDF are assessed in the context of theories of European integration and academic studies of the decision-making process of the European Community. The study of the ERDF's establishment and the subsequent first phase of administration (1975-79) includes an assessment of the Commission's behaviour vis a vis the national government representatives in COREPER, the Council of Ministers and the European Council. It also gives consideration to the influence of events external to the immediate forum of discussion and the role of national and European pressure groups. Particular attention is devoted to the role of the European Parliament, and especially to the nature and implications of its budgetary disputes with the Council of Ministers involving the ERDF. A survey is made of the Fund's administration in various EC member states which draws attention to some of the general problems that have been faced by the Commission with regard to ERDF operations. The debate preceding the Fund's amendment in 1979 is analysed and the consequences for the Fund's administration of this agreement are assessed. The operations of other Community financial instruments in the EC's problem regions are considered in a separate chapter. The Commission's 1981 proposals for further amendments to the Fund regulation are surveyed, as are the initial Council reactions to these suggestions. The thesis concludes that intergovernmentalist attitudes prevail in the Fund's operations, and demonstrates that national governments firmly control the distribution and administration of Fund aid. Moreover the size and impact of the ERDF have been restricted by limited resources, by national governments' suspicion of the Commission and reluctance to cede power, and by the anti-regional policy effects of the CAP. However, it is claimed that national dominance, and the consequent inefficiencies in the Fund's administration, are open to increasing pressure from local and regional authority criticism and indeed from those member states who are net-contributors to the Fund, who wish to see their contributions disbursed in a more efficient manner.
|Date of Award||1982|