Multi-level governance and the application of the partnership principle in times of economic crisis in Greece.
London School of Economics and Political Science, Hellenic Observatory, London, UK.
The purpose of this article is to assess to what extent the European Union Regional Policy (EURP) has altered the patterns of participation by the sub-national actors in
the implementation of the policy in Greece. It does that through the deployment of the theoretical frameworks of Multi-level Governance (MLG) and the application of
the principle of partnership. The principle of partnership has been an integral aspect of the regulatory framework governing the EURP and has remained so after all the
reforms of the Structural Funds. The aim of the principle is to promote bottom-up democratic participation in the areas where the EURP programmes are implemented
hence provide opportunities for more active involvement on behalf of the subnational authorities. In this way centralised patterns of policy making can be challenged towards the direction of participation closer to those envisaged by MLG. These processes however are mediated through domestic policy practices which in the case of Greece have been highly centralised and have remained so despite the EURP intervention. The evidence presented about the third programming period indicates that there has hardly been any turn towards MLG whilst the principle of
partnership was only applied in a superficial way. An early assessment regarding these patterns about the current programming period indicates similar processes in action. These issues are particularly pertinent in light of the ‘Kalikratis’ plan that has followed the ‘Kapodistrias’ plan in modernising the sub-national authorities as well
as the fiscal crisis that has engulfed Greece since 2009. It remains to be seen whether the combination of these forces can lead to anything other than the rescaling of governance in the direction of less spending and diminished capacities for the sub-national authorities or the substantive reorganisation of the regional and local authorities hence their improvement in terms of participation in the EURP programmes. The conclusion is that for this to happen, there is a need for the domestic reforms that relate with the decentralisation of administrative and fiscal competences to be strengthened and properly implemented so as to countenance
the negative impact of the austerity measures imposed after the fiscal crisis of 2009.
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