EU regional policy : has the UK government succeeded in playing the gatekeeper over the domestic impact of the European Regional Development Fund
This research sets out to test the hypothesis that the UK government has succeeded in playing a gatekeeper role over the domestic impact of main instrument of European Union (EU) regional policy, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) In relation to the domestic financial impact, this research examines the UK government's implementation of the EU principle of additionality: that EU regional funds should be spent in addition to planned domestic expenditure. In relation to the domestic political impact, consideration is given to both additionality and the implementation of the EU principle that regional funds should be administered by partnerships involving national governments, subnational actors and the Commission. While this research traces the development of the ERDF from its origins, the primary concern is with developments after the 1988 reform of the structural funds. In this reform, the allocation of funding doubled, the additionality requirement was strengthened; and the partnership principle was introduced. It was found that despite the sustained and sometimes collaborative efforts of the Commission and subnational actors to undermine the role of UK national government in the implementation of EU regional policy, these efforts have thus far met with limited success. While this findings may inform existing theories of EU regional policy-making, this thesis argues that existing theories are too general to guide case studies of single government action such as this. Moreover, existing theories tend to focus on EU-level decision-making and neglect the importance of implementation in shaping policy outcomes. This thesis concludes by proposing a new framework for analysing the role played by a single national government over specific EU policy issues, throughout the policy process. The framework outlined is described as the 'Extended Gatekeeper' approach.