The increasing dominance of neoliberalism as the key steering mechanism of the European Union (EU) since the early 1990s has implied the competitiveness-oriented reshaping of cohesion policy. The aim of this paper is to initiate a debate from a critical political economic perspective on the implications of this shift for Central Eastern European (CEE) member states. To this end, the paper discusses the formation of EU centre-periphery relations from a CEE point of view and formulates some preliminary suggestions as to how cohesion policy would need to be rethought in order to ensure the better integration of lagging CEE regions.


EU cohesion policy, EU integration, centre–periphery, Lisbonization, place-based development, Central Eastern Europe (CEE), Visegrad Group (V4)




AGNEW, J. (2001), ‘How many Europes? The European Union, eastward enlargement and uneven development’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 8, pp. 29–38.

ALLEN, D. (2005), Cohesion and Structural Funds: Competing Pressures for Reform?, [in:] WALLACE, H., WALLACE, W. and POLLACK, M. (eds), Policy-making in the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 213–241.

ALLEN, J., MASSEY, D. and COCHRANE, A. (1998), Rethinking the Region. London: Routledge.

BACHTLER, J. and DOWNES, R. (2000), ‘The spatial coverage of regional policy in Central and Eastern Europe’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 7, pp. 159–174.

BACHTLER, J. and GORZELAK, G. (2007), ‘Reforming EU Cohesion Policy’, Policy Studies, 28, pp. 309–326.

BACHTLER, J. and MENDEZ, C. (2007), ‘Who Governs EU Cohesion Policy? Deconstructing the Reforms of the Structural Funds’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 45, pp. 535–564.

BALÁZS, P. (2014), ‘Közeledés vagy távolodás?’ Közgazdasági Szemle, LXI, pp. 350–362.

BARCA, F. (2009), An Agenda for a Reformed Cohesion Policy. A place-based approach to meeting European Union challenges and expectations. Independent report prepared at the request of Danuta Hübner, Commissioner of Regional Policy http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meet-docs/2009_2014/documents/regi/dv/barca_report_/barca_report_en.pdf (Accessed 23 September 2015)

BAUN, M. and MAREK, D. (2014), Cohesion Policy in the European Union. London–New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

BORÉN, T. and GENTILE, M. (2007), ‘Metropolitan Processes in Post-Communist States: an Introduction’, Geografiska Annaler, 89 B, pp. 95–110.

BORRÁS-ALOMAR, S., CHRISTIANSEN, T. and RODRÍGUEZ-POSÉ, A. (1994), ‘Towards a `Europe of the Regions’? Visions and Reality from a Critical Perspective’, Regional Politics and Policy, 4, pp. 1–27.

BRUSZT, L. (2008) ‘Multi-level governance—the Eastern versions: Emerging patterns of regional development governance in the new member states’. Regional and Federal Studies, 18, pp. 607–627.

BUDD, L. (1997) ‘Regional integration and convergence and the problems of fiscal and monetary systems: Some lessons for Eastern Europe’, Regional Studies, 31, pp. 559–570.

BUDD, L. (2007) ‘A Cohesion pact for the regions’, Policy Studies, 28, pp. 347–363.

CEC (Commission of the European Communities) (2005), Cohesion Policy in Support of Growth and Jobs: Community Strategic Guidelines, 2007–2013. Available at http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/2007/osc/050706osc_en.pdf (Accessed 23 September 2015)

CEC (2012) Position of the Commission Services on the Development of Partnership Agreement and Programmes in HUNGARY for the Period 2014–2020. Available at http://ec.europa.eu/region-al_policy/what/future/pdf/partnership/hu_position_paper.pdf (Accessed 23 September 2015)

CEC (2014), Investment for jobs and growth Brussels, Promoting development and good governance in EU regions and cities Sixth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

COTELLA, G., ADAMS, N. and NUNES, R. J. (2012), ‘Engaging in European Spatial Planning: A Central and Eastern European Perspective on the Territorial Cohesion Debate’, European Planning Studies, 20, pp. 1197–1220.

DĄBROWSKI, M. (2014), ‘Towards place-based regional and local development strategies in Central and Eastern Europe? EU cohesion policy and strategic planning capacity at the sub-national level’, Local Economy, 29, pp. 78–393.

DUNFORD, M. and PERRONS, D. (1994), ‘Regional inequality, regimes of accumulation and economic development in contemporary Europe’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 19, pp. 163–182.

EHRLICH, K., KRISZAN, A. and LANG, T. (2012), ‘Urban development in Central and Eastern Europe – between Peripheralization and centralization?’, The Planning Review, 48, pp. 77–92.

EUROSTAT (2015) http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/GDP_at_regional_level (Accessed 23 September 2015).

FERRY, M. (2015), ‘Synthesis Report: WP8. Cohesion Policy and its Components: Past, Present and Future’, GRINCOH Working Paper Series, Paper No. 8, http://www.grincoh.eu/media/syhtnesis_reports/grincoh_wp8_synthesis_report_ferry.pdf (Accessed 23 September 2015)

FERRY, M. and MCMASTER, I. (2013) ‘Cohesion Policy and the Evolution of Regional Policy in Central and Eastern Europe’, Europe-Asia Studies, 65, pp. 1502–1528.

GÁL, Z. and LUX, G. (2014), ET2050 Territorial Scenarios and Visions for Europe, Final Report 30/06/2014 Volume 8 – Territorial Scenarios and Visions for Central and Eastern Europe.

GRABBE, H. (2001), ‘How does Europeanization affect CEE governance? Conditionality, diffusion and Diversity’, Journal of European Public Policy, 8, pp. 1013–1031.

High Level Reflection Group (2014)’, Central Europe fit for the future – Visegrad Group ten years after the accession. Bratislava-Warsaw: CEPI-demosEuropa. http://www.demosservices.home.pl/www/files/demos_Central%20Europe_fit_web.pdf (Accessed 23 September 2015)

HUDSON, R. (2003), ‘European integration and new forms of uneven development but not the end of territorially distinctive capitalisms in Europe’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 10, pp. 49–67.

JUNCKER, J-C. (2014), A New Start for Europe: My Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change Political Guidelines for the next European Commission Opening Statement in the European Parliament Plenary Session. http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/docs/pg_en.pdf (Accessed 23 September 2015).

KÁPOSZTA, J. and NAGY, H. (2015), ‘Status report about the progress of the Visegrad countries in relation to Europe 2020 targets’, European Spatial Research and Policy, 22, pp. 81–99.

KEATING, M. (2008) ‘A Quarter Century of the Europe of the Regions’, Regional and Federal Studies,18, pp. 629–635.

KENGYEL, Á. (2014), ‘Az európai uniós tagság mint modernizációs hajtóerő’, Közgazdasági Szemle, LXI, pp. 493–508.

MASSEY, D. (1979), ‘In what sense a regional problem?’, Regional Studies, 13, pp. 233–243.

MASSEY, D. (1984), Spatial Divisions of Labour: Social Structures and the Geography of Production. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

MASSEY, D. (2001), ‘Geography on the agenda’, Progress in Human Geography 25, pp. 5–17.

MENDEZ, C. (2011), ‘The Lisbonization of EU Cohesion Policy: A Successful Case of Experimentalist Governance?’, European Planning Studies, 19, pp. 519–537.

MENDEZ, C. (2013), ‘The post-2013 reform of EU cohesion policy and the place-based narrative’, Journal of European Public Policy, 20, pp. 639–659.

MENDEZ, C., BACHTLER, J. and GRANQVIST, K. (2013), European Commission Perspectives on the 2014–2020 Partnership Agreements and Programmes: A Comparative Review of the Commission’s Position Papers, European Policy Research Paper, nr. 84, Glasgow: European Policies Research Centre, University of Strathclyde.

Ministry of Regional Development of Poland (2011), Evaluation of benefits to the EU-15 resulting from the implementation of Cohesion Policy in the Visegrad Group countries. Warsaw: Ministry of Regional Development of Poland.

MONASTIRIOTIS, V. (2011), ‘Regional growth dynamics in Central and Eastern Europe’, LSE ‘Europe in Question’ Discussion Paper Series. London: The London School of Economics and Political Science.

MRAK, M., RICHTER, S. and SZEMLÉR, T. (2015), Cohesion Policy as a Function of the EU Budget A Perspective from CEE Member States. Research Report 400, May 2015, Vienna: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies.

NÖLKE, A. and VLIEGENTHART, A. (2009), ‘Enlarging the Variety of Capitalism: The Emergence of Dependent Market Economies in East Central Europe’, World Politics, 61, pp. 670–202.

PALLAGST, K. (2006), ‘European spatial planning reloaded: Considering EU enlargement in theory and practice’, European Planning Studies, 14, pp. 253–272.

PARASKEVOPOULOS, C. J. and LEONARDI, R. (2004), ‘Introduction: Adaptational Pressures and Social Learning in European Regional Policy – Cohesion (Greece, Ireland and Portugal) vs. CEE (Hungary, Poland) Countries’, Regional and Federal Studies, 14, pp. 315–354.

RADVÁNSZKI, Á. (2009), ‘Old wine in a new bottle? The Hungarian approach to polycentric territorial Development’, Urban Research and Practice, 2, pp. 308–318.

SCOTT, A. J. (2001) ‘Globalization and the Rise of City-regions’, European Planning Studies, 9, pp. 813–826.

SOKOL, M. (2001), ‘Central and Eastern Europe a Decade After the Fall of State-socialism: Regional Dimensions of Transition Processes’, Regional Studies, 35, pp. 645–655.

SMITH, A. and TIMÁR, J. (2010), ‘Uneven transformations: Space, economy and society 20 years after the collapse of state socialism’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 17, pp. 115–125.

TIMÁR, J. (2004), ‘‘More than ‘Anglo-American’, it is ‘Western’: hegemony in geography from a Hungarian perspective’, Geoforum, 35, pp. 533–538.

VANOLO, A. (2010) ‘European Spatial Planning Between Competitiveness and Territorial Cohesion:Shadows of Neo-liberalism’, European Planning Studies, 18, pp. 1301–1315.

VARRÓ, K. and FARAGÓ, L. (2016), The Politics of Spatial Policy and Governance in Post-1990 Hungary: The Interplay Between European and National Discourses of Space, European Planning Studies, 24:(1) pp. 39–60.

ŽENKA, J., NOVOTNÝ, J. and CSANK, P. (2014), ‘Regional Competitiveness in Central European Countries: In Search of a Useful Conceptual Framework’, European Planning Studies, 22, pp. 164–183.

First Page


Last Page