Does Devolution Increase Accountability? Empirical Evidence from the Implementation of European Union Cohesion Policy

Cite as: Polverari, L. (2015) Does Devolution Increase Accountability? Empirical Evidence from the Implementation of European Union Cohesion Policy. Regional Studies, 49 (6), 1074-1086

The period from the late 1990s to the early 2000s witnessed trends of decentralization, deconcentration or devolution of competencies from the national to the sub-national levels in a variety of countries. Implicit or explicit in many of the discussions about devolution is the assumption that by bringing the design and delivery of policy ‘closer to the people’, it increases accountability. The main proposition of this paper is to test this common assumption. Focusing, as a test case, on the implementation of European Union Cohesion Policy in two meso-level territorial units with recent experience of devolution, the paper investigates empirically whether the new, devolved institutional framework within which the policy operates is indeed more conducive to accountability.

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