Hallet, Martin (1997) National and regional development in Central and Eastern Europe: implications for EU structural assistance. Economic Papers No. 120, March 1997. [EU Commission - Working Document]
Eastern enlargement is generally assumed not to take place before the year 2000, with a first accession of at least some of the 10 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) that have association agreements with the European Union (EU). In spite of uncertainties about the time and scope of enlargement, it is not premature to start reflecting on EU structural assistance to CEECs. One reason is that all external assistance has - wanted or not - a regional impact as it is allocated to certain locations and therefore requires some decisions on priority regions and activities. Second, preaccession aid to CEECs should be designed in a way that allows a smooth switch-over from existing funds (such as PHARE) to the Structural Funds in order to facilitate accession. This means not only to adjust pre-accession aid to the Structural Funds, but may also require - in the opposite direction - to prepare the Structural Funds for the CEECs. Whatever the modalities of transition will be, it is clear that sooner or later there will have to be an equal treatment of old and new Member States after a certain period. This paper will proceed as follows. After summarising briefly the national development gap of the CEECs relative to the EU (section 2), a more comprehensive view will be taken on the CEECs’ regions (section 3). Section 4 presents some theoretical considerations on whether priority should be given to national or to regional development policy. Section 5 discusses several implications for EU structural assistance. Section 6 summarises and concludes.
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