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157 Working Paper

Ripples in a Rising Tide: Why Some EU Regions Receive More Structural Funds Than Others Do

2008 – Achim Kemmerling and Thilo Bodenstein


We investigate the distribution of European Union (EU) Structural Funds across EU regions. We draw from literature concerning the political economy of national intergovernmental grants, and regarding the EU's two-tiered bargaining process. Bargaining over the distribution of Structural Funds takes place between regions and their respective national governments, but is also influenced by bargaining that occurs on an intergovernmental level. We test our claims with a data set containing the distribution of Objective-1 and Objective-2 funds across EU regions, as well as other economic, institutional and electoral variables. Adjusting for selection bias, we find that the official allocation criteria are not sufficient determinants for explaining the distribution of regional transfers. For Objective-2 they may even be said to bear the opposite sign. Moreover, federalist regions and those with stronger electoral competition receive significantly more transfers than other regions.