EU's Regional Policy as a Cure for Separatism: The Flemish Case

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Simeon Stoyanov Apostolov
4. term, European Studies, Master (Master Programme)
History tells us that the world has always been experiencing separatist movements from different people, desiring partial or full independence from the national state. From North America to Indonesia, and from Europe to Africa, these processes have caused much bloodshed, states collapses and rises.
Europe currently is living in its most peaceful period thanks to the common European project – the European Union. Nevertheless, several regions in EU have been advocating for greater autonomy or even independence from their national state. These separatist movements are a hidden mine on which the EU could meet issues in the future.
The EU thus has developed measures which are indirectly aiding regions, including ones with separatist intentions, towards economic, social and, possibly in the future, political integration in the EU. The decentralised model of one of these instruments – the Regional Policy, could be seen as a direct measure that boosts the pro-EU orientation of the regions and thus softens their intention for separation from the member state.
In this thesis, the Regional Policy’s effects are examined in the case of the federal state of Belgium and one of its regions – Flanders. The various political structures in Europe do not enable the possibility to have a generalised approach in analysing the continental picture but a model could be extracted and evaluated with its advantages and disadvantages, using a mixed theoretical method.
In addition, the division in the objectives of the Regional Policy for the different regions are also a cause for the wide span of results, occurring from the involvement of the instrument. Nevertheless, its overall objectives are followed through in all the programmes and the requirements for regional cooperation and development have left positive marks on both above-average and below-average developed regions.
This method, derived from the EU, is, therefore, a subtle, indirect form of “cure” for separatist regions in Europe when its effects on the region in questions are undoubtedly positive and regarded with an optimistic stance from the regional political powers.
Publication date19 Jul 2013
Number of pages71
Publishing institutionAAU
ID: 78582925