EU och pengarna : en undersökning om hur den översiktliga planeringen i två svenska strategiska regioner påverkas av Europeiska regionala utvecklingsfonden
Abstract: The European Union is a 60 year long collaboration between the European countries. It was born from the intention to ease trade and thereby reassure peace. Within the 60 years EU has functioned it has developed and expanded further. In 1952 it evolved around the trade of coal and steel between six countries, today it includes 27 nations and oversees a large number of topics such as foreign affairs, a common currency and regional politics. EU has grown at several times, the latest expansion was the largest where 12 new countries became members. The unions of countries that only 60 years ago were at different sides of a world war can be considered an accomplishment. Within the EU there are great economic and social differences. The aim is to even out those differences by Cohesion Policy and the structural funds. Every seventh year the union develop a long term budget which also includes the fi nancing, goals and structure of those funds. The total budget for the EU in between 2007-2013 is 862 billion euro, approximately one third of that sum falls into the structural funds in order to fulfill the aim to decrease social differences. The structural funds are divided into three different funds, the ESF, ERDF and the Cohesion Fund. These so called funds are rather to be considered different posts in the EU long term budget than actual funds. However they finance different fields with different goals. This thesis focuses on the goal aiming towards regional competitiveness and development and the ERDF fund. Sweden is divided into eight different regions; every region has developed their own operational program that presents the regional goals and focus. The operational program is based on the regional development plans of the county’s regional development plan. Every municipality in Sweden is a part of a county but also a region which implies that they are a part of a regional development plan as well as an operational program. In order to get projects approved and money granted by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth certain criteria given by the EU must be fulfi lled together with criteria decided on the national level. The single municipality holds a large number of document and legislation to relate to in their daily work with planning. The Swedish municipalities are affected both by the EU legislation and by the above mentioned national strategies and visions. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions represent Sweden in the EU Regional committee. The committee is the arena where Sweden is given the opportunity to infl uence legislation and strategies. Sweden is however a small part of the union and long term planning is necessary in order to achieve change. AIM My aim is to investigate how comprehensive planning in Sweden is related to the economic infl uence of the EU by researching examples from different geographical areas in Sweden. Through the thesis I want to develop my analytical skills as well as find a greater understanding for what authorities infl uence the planning process. DELIMITATION I compared the result of the applications to the EU fund in two regions, the middle part of Norrland, and the eastern part of mid-Sweden. I chose projects performed within the project period 2007-2013 that were completed. The planning documents I focused on in each municipality I studied where the goals, visions and comprehensive plans. RESEARCH QUESTIONS My research questions were: - Does the European regional development fund effect the comprehensive planning in Sweden and if so how is it visible? - Is there any geographical difference in how the effect/impact of the structural fund is visible between regions? - Are there any common trends to be seen in the projects that were given fi nancial support from the funds? METHOD I used two methods in order to answer the research questions, literate studies and interviews. The literature study holds three parts; articles and books, applications and final reports from projects that were granted funds from ERDF and finally comprehensive plans from the municipalities concerned with the projects. The interviews were performed with four persons who possess different connections to the effect of EU on Swedish comprehensive planning. Göran Theolin is responsible for matters concerning EU at Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. Anders Risberg and Per Grängsjö are in charge of the regions eastern Mid-Sweden and Mid-Norrland. Anna Carlsson is senior adviser for regional growth at the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications. RESULT The main part of the literature concerning the structural funds and their impact are found with different authorities. I considered the information reliable even though it is seldom screened in the same way as books or articles. Therefor I decided to perform a literature study based on books and articles, on the growth and development of the structural funds, the expansion of EU and regional politics. The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth gather all approved project applications available to the public. I used the delimitations in order to choose the projects I wanted to research. Five of my research projects were found through the project database, the sixth was recommended to me in my interview with Anders Risberg. Both the applications and fi nal reports of the chosen projects were reviewed in order to fi nd out what impact the performed project could show on the development of the municipality. To better understand how the municipalities concerned with the projects I reviewed aimed to develop I read their comprehensive plans with a focus on visions and goals. Since the comprehensive plans differ both in amplitude and content when it comes to visions and goals as well as the time of latest update I gathered the information I found in a table. By gathering all municipality goals and visions in the table I made it easier to compare them to one another. In order to conclude the visions and goals into a few sentences I had to make sure I had great understanding for the municipal intentions. The visions and goals of the municipalities where then compared with the project impact to see if the project helped fulfi ll any part of the visions or the opposite. These comparisons showed both differences between the regions but also some difference between municipalities within a region. The most revealing difference was that projects performed in one single municipality more often fulfilled the goals and vision whereas projects involving several municipalities often, not always, fulfi lled some part of the municipality visions. One of the reasons that the common projects did fulfi ll parts of the visions is probably due to the fact that most municipalities hold similar prerequisites and issues and express similar visions and goals as a result. The interviews gave me information that would have been hard to come by in written sources. Even more important the interviewees provided me with fi rst hand views and opinions on the structural funds. I also found answers to my research questions concerning regional differences and whether ERDF impacts Swedish comprehensive planning. DISCUSSION After completing this study I can declare that the EU structural funds do effect Swedish comprehensive planning. The possibility given to municipalities to apply for financial support to perform projects has meant that projects have been carried through faster than they would have without additional funding. From what I have seen when studying comprehensive plans, fi nal reports, operational programs and interviewed people in different positions at the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth I can conclude that the municipalities are using the ERDF as means to carry out their goals and visions in several cases. Through the literature I read I have received a clear image of how the structural funds affect the EU and the huge amounts of money the funds hold. The main goal; to even out social and economic differences within the union are indeed positive but raises the question on whether or not the funds are the best way to achieve the goal and if the money ends up where they are best needed? By choosing three projects from both regions I found understanding on how the funds impact the participating municipalities. My results are based on the comparison of the municipality goals and visions in the comprehensive plan and the described effects the chosen projects. These projects are only a small part of the total amount of projects that are performed with funding from the EU. A similar comparison between a different selection of projects in other areas and municipalities would maybe show a somewhat different result.
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