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European Integration and the Peripheral Disparities in Greece. The way ahead

Kavvadia, Helen (2009): European Integration and the Peripheral Disparities in Greece. The way ahead. Published in: Review of decentralisation, local government and regional development , Vol. 56, No. October 2009 (1 October 2009)

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As the main initiatives in economic and regional policy in Greece focuses on creating favourable conditions for general economic growth and innovation rather than regional redistribution and cohesion, the future of the peripheral areas is largely a local concern and to an increasingly degree depending upon European co-operation and initiatives. Recent studies point to the fact that there has been a convergence in terms of economic development between the countries in the EU during the last two decades. However, simultaneously with the reduced economic disparities at a national level, there has been increasing disparities between regions within countries. Not surprisingly, it is the European capital and metropolitan regions that display the strongest economic growth, while the peripheral and largely rural regions are lagging behind. As a consequence, there has been an increasing spatial polarization in the EU-27 countries. At a policy level, the EU has had its primarily focus on the objectives of economic growth and competitiveness (the Lisbon Strategy) and sustainable development (the Gothenburg Strategy). However, in 2004 the European Commission’s Third Cohesion Report, identified territorial cohesion as a additional strategic policy objective. The instruments for achieving the objective of territorial cohesion is the co-ordination of Regional Policy with various sectoral policies and initiatives. The principle of territorial cohesion has been pushed strongly by the Conference for Peripheral and Maritime Regions (CPMR), founded in 1973. One area where CPMR has been particularly active during the last years is on the initiative taken by the European Commission concerning a future EU Maritime Policy, which has been out for public consultation as a Green Paper between June 2006 and June 2007.

Undoubtedly, Greece is attempting to achieve the EU policy objectives of economic growth and competitiveness (the Lisbon Strategy) and comply with the principles of sustainable development (the Gothenburg Strategy). In doing this, Greek regional policy, as in most of Europe, has undergone a significant shift from being based on direct economic subsidies to the creation of favorable conditions for development and growth. In terms of organization it is also evident that new structures are put in place, which on the one hand strengthens activities at the regional level, and on the other hand secure channels for carrying out governmental national policies. However, while the emphasis on growth and competitiveness is clearly the guiding principle in the Greek economic and regional policy, the issue of territorial cohesion is not addressed explicitly.

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