Formal Institutions in Irish Planning: Europeanization Before and after the Celtic Tiger

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för fysisk planering

Abstract: Many economies throughout the world were devastated by the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. Ireland in particular experienced a severe collapse in its housing market. Despite the progression of European-influenced planning policy that was meant to promote balanced regional development in Ireland, the country's housing market vastly overbuilt, exacerbating a housing market crash that ended the Celtic Tiger era. Drawing on Europeanization and historical institutionalism as theoretical frameworks, this thesis argues that the link between these EU-influenced policy principles and local Irish planning practice was weak during an important phase of Ireland's economic growth. This conclusion is demonstrated through the analysis of a case study, McEvoy and Smith v. Meath County Council. The findings show that while Ireland's national government created an ambitious National Spatial Strategy modeled on EU principles, non-binding Regional Planning Guidelines allowed local authorities to continue granting zoning changes and permissions. These decisions were therefore uninhibited by the constraints of population projections, consideration for infrastructure provision, and overall good planning practice. This research calls into question the effectiveness of transferring policy principles from the EU to Member States. It suggests more generally that to implement policy and law successfully, policy makers must appreciate the societal and economic context in which these rules will operate.  

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