EU Cohesion Policy Performance: Regional Variation in the Effectiveness of the management of the Structural Funds
The effectiveness in the absorption of funds is a permanent challenge for EU member states, and therefore, the analysis of the absorption capacity is needed. The present paper deals with the dimension of the absorption of EU resources and focus on an aspect that has been widely forgotten so far in previous literature: the regional variation in the absorption of the structural funds. Based on EU regional aggregate data on funds allocation and payments provided by the European Commission for the Operating Program 2007-2013 at the NUTS2 level, we observe that full absorption was more the exception than the rule. In addition, the high regional heterogeneity detected in the absorption of the Structural Funds is not only observed across countries but also within the regions in a country, contradicting some explanations that were given in the past about the effect of administrative structures on the absorption capacity. Finally, we offer a discussion on how lack of timely available regional data on EU fund payments hinders the analysis of the effectiveness of the regional absorption of the funds.