In review of the necessity for the inauguration of European Commission, it is such an excellent call by the Members of Parliament to institute a seemingly neutral bureaucrats that is concerned with professional analysis of problem facing the Union’s regional development, preferring solution through the submission of encompassing proposal and lastly, the bearing in mind of the importance of using unbiased tactics to prioritized actions by initiating bargaining, mediation and implementation of common regional policy to govern members.
Brief Historical Analysis of Reform in Regional Policy among EU Initially on inception, ERDF management was directed by the member states but subsequent reforms to the fund management empowered European Commission. The Commission is saddled with the responsibility of professionally drafting guidelines upon which regional states are categorized into objective one, objective two to objective three. Each objective stratum has its own qualification guidelines.
Four years after the inauguration of ERDF, it receives reformation outfit by eradication of member financing base on quota measure. The I985 ERDF reform aimed at easing the poor member troubles and encourages participation. This is done by abolishing the stiff national quota guideline for allocation thus; there was a further expansion of the non-quota allotment. In 1989, the ERDF reform was remarkable in that that more member state benefitted from the commission increased liberty. The Commission now determines which region benefit most from the funding.
It was left to initiate negotiation between member states and sub national authorities to allow compromise of some member for the benefit of other members who are more in need of economic and social assistance. In the reform of 1993, there was institution of a parallel management committee; one would wonder the difference in the implementation anyway. The Commission was relieved of community initiatives though got an additional strength in the verification of structural fund disbursement. The 1999 reform through Monetary Union, among others brought about the financial enhancement of members.
This was not done out of economic sacrifice from members whose exchange currency belittles the agreed term. In the face of past five reforms, the commission has only succeeded in accruing more responsibilities to itself with yet fallow areas in target to cover. Above all, there has been an appreciable integration and development through implementation of common regional policy. Just as Jennifer queries in Conditional Leadership – under what condition is the commission most influential in achieving common regional policy ever recorded?
Historical Achievements with European Regional Development Fund As part of its aim at achieving a closed disparity between the poor and the wealthy s’ member states, it is fundamental for the establishment of a commission to serve the purpose of bureaucrats in moderating ERDF disbursement. This was achieved as stated earlier in this analysis. On critical analysis of the management of ERDF, certainly, disparities in economic and social infrastructures are reduced through this fund and other fund that made provision for awarding of loans to industrial investors and small business enterprise.
Other use for the pooled fund is substantiated in training preparation of needing members for gainful employment, project commissioning and technical growth. The employment reduction enjoyed by the European Union members through regional policy makes the policy a very important factor in the integration of European Union. This is second to Common Agricultural Policy. This huge investment on reduction of employment is proven in lieu of EU budgetary allocation of 15% of total share. One of the heavy tasks confronting the European Commission in the disbursement is the management of political pressure in strong bid for allocation by members.
Thus, it becomes part of assessment of competency for the commission in the allocation of ERDF with transparency and fairness. The pressure is tougher owing to the likelihood of less influential member to risk significant percentage of her GDP in the contribution without eventual developmental return (Jennifer R. 2006). With the initial intergovernmental approach to the management of the funding, there was the formation of Regional Policy Committee and Fund Committee. The committees compliment the Commission to assist the Directorate General in directing the administrative principle to guide the fund disbursement.
At this stage, the Commission has a limited control but gained more control in subsequent reforms. On approval of project as proposed by the commission, the ERDF soon achieve its primary purpose to disburse aids to members. The starting point for the first disbursement in 1975 was on a good note with implementation amounting to about 1200 projects. There was appreciable increase in the plan execution for the fully made available ERDF, amounting to over 2000 projects two years later. Job opportunities were provided through project execution and grant investment in industrial growth.
Though further analysis reveals minimal intervention in the area of meeting the huge demand for unemployment easing, the assessment of the success from the first attempt was commendable though not without flaws (to be discussed later). In implementation of the ERDF institution, Members of the Union must be commended for their compliance and the true reflection of a genuine alliance in the Union. Members were not found disobeying the guiding rules regulating the European Regional Development Fund. This is part of the success of the regional policy that historically depicts the development of European Union.
The most applauded cooperation among the members was in the agreement and implementation of fund disbursement to members with poorest outfit. Three example of this is in the allotment of Italian, British and Danish fund partly or wholly to other regions (Bull. EC S/7 1976, 14, pt 47: Jennifer 2006). Analysis of Regional Policy with Structural and Cohesion Funds In the early twenty-first century, the European Union regional policy made provision for percentage share of instituted Structural fund taking about 92% while the Cohesion fund taking the remaining 8%.
The structural fund comprises of four sub divisional bodies (ERDF, the European Social Fund, European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee fund, and the the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance). The regional policy allots structural fund as follows: about 70% to fund region with the poorest development, about 11% to fund regional member’s state with financial difficulties in realizing their proposed social and economic growth, and 12% of the structural fund earmarked to modernize systems of training towards eradicating unemployment problem.
The above three budgeting of common fund pool represents the objective 1, objective 2 and objective 3 categorization respectively. The assistance render to the poorer community is aimed at fostering interregional cooperation, maintenance of developed cities in the urban areas, rural development project towards removing discrimination and in closing the inequality gap among members. Programs financed through the funds have the objectives of developing the technology sector of member states economy, enlargement of telecommunication availability, and creating a society with real time information technology.
On the other hand, Cohesion funds have a regional limitation to Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland. It is meant for express funding of project to develop transport system and environmental modification in the region. However, in the 90s the development of Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was introduced following the conflict situation in Kosovo and Bosnian. NATO intervention facilitated peace negotiation (March 1999).
The incapacitation of EU at making a positive intervention in the conflict must have been a factor that necessitated the Commission’s policy on CFSP. It was referred as Treaty of Amsterdam, entering into implementation on the 1st of May. The success of the policy was corrupted by the budget misappropriation. Subsequently, the Parliament withheld the Commission’s budget approval on the ground of previous fraudulent act and corruption. The investigating committee setup to look into the crisis faulted the Commission in confirmation of the corruption involvement.
Thereafter, the Commission suffered damaged reputation leading to the new Commission’s (The Prodi Commission) institution of anti-fraud agent by called OLAF. Subsequent Developments and Future Course of Regional Policy Prior to 2004 accession, issues emerging from enlargement of members birthed a serious deliberation that posed threat to the bond between the existing Union members. The influx of poorer members widened the inequality gap and continually directs the European Commission to come up with policies that decreases the allocation return of bigger nations like the Britain.
These countries are subjected to pressure to increase their contribution in order to close the wide gap between them and the poorer Member states. The wealth inequality is measured by taking a conscious effort at determining the members GDP ratio in relation to the average for the overall Union. The policy needs to be less stiff in order to optimize members’ participation and facilitate implementation of the fundamental objectives of the European Union Commission far back in 1975.