Estonian Local Government Absorption Capacity of European Union Structural Funds

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Merit Tatar

Abstract

European Union (EU) regional policy has played a great role in the transition economies of Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC). However, the effective implementation of EU regional policy requires that local and regional governance systems in Member States are compatible with EU practice and regulatory norms (e.g. partnership) emphasising the importance of the well-performing sub-national government. The article discusses Estonian local governments’ absorption capacity problems in the EU Structural Funds by investigating the main factors restricting them from using the aid. The article is based on a survey among Estonian local governments conducted in 2005. This survey was also supported by meetings of the representatives of three Estonian counties – Lääne-Viru, Pärnu and Jõgeva – and the City of Tartu. The results show that Estonian local governments regard Structural Funds as one of the most important instruments in their socio-economic development while the capacity to absorb the funds is limited due to the low administrative and financial capacity of the local government level.

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Author Biography

Merit Tatar

Merit Tatar is a Doctoral Student in Public Administration and Policy at the University of Tartu and a researcher and analyst for the Institute of Baltic Studies. She obtained her MSc in Politics and Government in the European Union from London School of Economics and Political Science in 2008. Her main research interests are in EU regional policy and Europeanization studies.