Institutional change, partnership and regional networks: civic engagement and the implementation of structural funds in Poland MarCin DĄbrowski
Introduction European Structural Funds (SF ) have generated unprecedented opportunities in Poland, the major recipient of EU funding for the 2007-2013 SF programme. This project funding has helped boost economic development and narrow the country’s gap with Western Europe. It also must be considered for its role as a stimulus for new institutional structures, knowledge and skills for the delivery of regional development policy in Poland, which was largely absent throughout the 1990s (e.g. Ferry 2004). SF implementation generally constitutes a potentially powerful driver for institutional change in Central and Eastern European (CEE) member states; it implies the introduction of new norms and/or policy practices that are at odds with the established ‘ways of doing things’ within administrations in these countries. In fact, some authors, exploring the impact of SFs on policy practices in national administrations, have highlighted the ongoing redefinition of relations between regions and central government (Ferry and McMaster 2005; Aïssaoui 2005; Hughes et al. 2004; Keating 2006; Bruszt 2008). Bruszt, for example, has suggested that SFs were instrumental in preparing ground for the introduction of elements of multi-level governance in CEE countries.