Regional inequalities and the tradeoff between cohesion and competitiveness


Whether the European Union lacks democratic legitimation is a longstanding debate. The project REGIOPARL analyses how far European regions can function as a cornerstone of democracy within the European Union and what the limits and potentials of a multi-level governance system based on regions are. A special focus is thereby set on regional actors and citizens which link the regional and the European level. One partner in a research network of universities and civil society organizations, the WZB unit examines conflict structures and political bargaining processes of regional equalization and investment policies within regions in a comparative manner.

While inequalities between regions in Europe have been rising since the beginning of the 21st Century, the financial crisis led to new dynamics of regulating such disparities. At the same time, competitive federalism and the idea of subnational, (financial) autonomy has gained political influence and challenges redistributive norms over regional competition. Taking a comparative perspective, the dissertation project examines how regional financial transfer systems at a national and a regional level are politically contested on the background of higher fiscal consolidation efforts. A focus is put on the position towards regional inequality and regional transfer mechanisms of new political parties and movements in particular, which have extended their influence since the financial crisis 2008.