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Cohesion, coherence, cooperation: EU policy beyond hard territoriality

By: Faludi, A (2011)

EU regional policy bears witness to the ambivalence of the European constructs caused amongst others by the confusion between ‘hard’ and ‘aspirational’ territoriality. EU aspirational territoriality aims to promote cohesion, being a state of harmonious development in which the backwardness of the least favoured regions or islands, including rural areas has been reduced. To this end, the EU operates the Structural Funds.

The paper traces the interplay between the aim of cohesion, so defined, and the modes of operation of cohesion policy. These modes are characterised by efforts to achieve coherence of relevant policies of the EU and the member states through mutual cooperation. The current situation is marked by uncertainty about the Lisbon Treaty – still under ratification – and the role which a new competence shared between the EU and the Member States for ‘territorial cohesion’ will play in future. Territorial cohesion policy will still have to move beyond basing itself on notions of ‘hard’ towards notions of ‘aspirational’ territoriality.

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