Regional Policy of the European Union in the United Kingdom
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Publication date: 2003-07-25
GNPJE 2003;185(7-8):98-119
Declining industry regions and declining rural areas are the main types of troubled regions in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In a spatial perspective, considerable socio-economic inequalities between the poor North and the rich and developed South are the case in the UK. Regional inequalities enforce a regional policy involving application of a set of instruments in order to arrive at a higher convergence of incomes and to stimulate economic activity in the underdeveloped areas. The United Kingdom had been conducting an active regional policy since as early as 1928, but over that entire period its purposes were based on a single indicator, namely the rate of unemployment. A more comprehensive approach, involving support for regional development, has developed after joining the European Community. In 1975-1988, the United Kingdom obtained ECU 5,103.25 million worth of aid and was the second-largest, to Italy, beneficiary of the European Regional Development Fund. After the 1988 regional policy reform, the United Kingdom obtained aid from structural funds within the framework of all the separated objectives. The United Kingdom is cone of the most centralised states in the European Union. It has not developed a nation-wide system of local governments, and the key role in pursuit of the regional policy is played by the central government and its regional agencies. The scope of sovereignty of regional government agencies in the field of structural funds management is different in the case of regions located in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The UK’s experience in the field of drafting financial programmes of structural funds is vast and diversified. Poland and the remaining acceding countries can draw practical conclusions from the United Kingdom’s experience, to be used as guidance for implementation of structural funds’ programmes.
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