The EU Structural Funds belong to the most tangible aspects of Europeanisation and are of vital importance for the new EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe. These countries are also good instances of a more general topic concerning state development: whereas some states tend to mobilise economic resources internally, other states tend to gather a larger share of their resources externally.
The basic thrust of this short, yet concentrated, study is to follow the flow of the Structural Funds through the state apparatuses in a small selection of countries within the region. Our aim is to identify critical ‘filters’ of this flow and, moreover, to classify types of constellations of actors, organisations and processes that can contribute to ‘good government’.
In this pilot study, two to three cases will be examined with respect to how the Structural Funds are being handled at different levels of the state apparatus. The study of the funds will also function as a methodological device: metaphorically speaking, we intend to ‘x-ray’ states by using the flows of funds as a ‘contrast medium’; to identify patterns of distribution; and to target ‘nodal points’ in this flow. Within the study, we will develop a research framework in order to ‘shadow’ the money from the European level all the way to the local implementation.
Within the social sciences, several techniques are used to ‘shadow’ humans in order to study aspects of social life: one can, for instance, study how individuals spend their time or how employees behave within their workplace simply by following them. To ‘follow’ money is admittedly of a different nature and requires different methods. In order to follow the flow of the Structural Funds, we will have to rely upon clear ‘evidences’ of their use. But as it happens, these evidences are also indicators of transparency and ‘good government’. In this study, we will also make a methodological contribution by systematically testing and furthering possibilities for developing techniques to study the impact of external funding, such as the EU Structural Funds, on the state apparatus in the region.