From decentralization to re-centralization: Tendencies of regional policy and inequalities in Central and Eastern Europe

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Bradley Loewen

Abstract

The issue of decentralization in the postsocialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has faded from the research agenda since the democratic transition and EU accession. Conventionally presented as a global policy goal for supporting local democracy, improved governance and reduced regional inequalities, decentralization has been met with uncertain results in less developed regions. EU Regional Policy, initially supporting decentralization and related regionalization processes in CEE, has met challenges in lagging regions facing institutional legacies and capacity limitations. Perceived failures of decentralization point to a trend of re-centralization of regional policy in CEE countries, on the part of both national and EU levels, potentially exacerbating the trend of increasing regional polarization within countries. The cases of Estonia and Hungary illustrate these tendencies, drawing attention to national responses and the need for a continued dialogue on institutional development and EU Regional Policy reform in order to better target regional inequalities.

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Author Biography

Bradley Loewen, Department of Institutional, Environmental and Experimental Economics (KIE), University of Economics, Prague

Bradley Loewen is an Early Stage Researcher in the Marie Curie Initial Training Network, “RegPol2 – Socio-economic and political responses to regional polarization in Central and Eastern Europe,” and doctoral student at the University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic. His current research focuses on regional policy and institutional transformation in Central and Eastern Europe. His research interests further include regional development, urban and regional planning, socio-economic inequalities, and Europeanization and global processes.