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Governance challenges in peripheral areas (2019-2023)

Project no. 132294 has been implemented with the support provided from the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund of Hungary, financed under the K-19 funding scheme

Summary and objectives of the research

The problem of economically and socially backward regions is becoming increasingly important in Europe as a source of socio-political tensions and an obstacle to the territorially coherent development of a state. In a European comparison, two-thirds of Hungary’s regions are lagging behind, and the South Transdanubian region is in the bottom third of these regions. The aim of this research is therefore to explore why, despite numerous attempts at intervention, the region of South Transdanubia, and Baranya County in particular, is characterized by lagging behind rather than catching up. We want to investigate which factors hinder or even facilitate the successful realization of development policy goals. In particular, the research focuses on the internal resources, the forms of local governance, and the types of external interventions in peripheral regions, because previous research has shown that these factors can have a fundamental influence on the perpetuity of peripherality or on the potential for change. The expected research results could contribute to a better understanding of the social capital of peripheral areas, the characteristics of their internal resources, and the drivers of locally participatory decision-making, development, and governance mechanisms. All this can help external interventions such as the “Hungarian Village Programme” or the EU’s “Smart Villages” initiative to achieve more effective results in the country’s peripheral regions.

Research hypotheses

  • The development of peripheral areas remote from development centres poses a double challenge. Firstly, their resources are limited and they are highly dependent on the dynamics of the centres. On the other hand, they are also distant from the centres of power in institutional, political and geographical terms. One theoretical framework for our research is the community-type governance and development model. We hypothesise that the unfavourable, stagnating or declining development trajectories of peripheries are generally characteristic of countries with highly centralised and polarised political structures and where the primary economic and socio-political objective is forced modernisation. Our hypothesis is that the eastern periphery of the EU, including the region under study, is more dependent on external resources, on higher and more distant centres of power, mainly due to more centralised resource allocation mechanisms and centralised governance features. This specificity is reflected both in deep-rooted socio-cultural characteristics and in the processes of governance and political transition. The power structure and the consequences of external dependency are presumably reflected in the choice of local actors, their relations, their decisions, their local cooperation mechanisms, the forms and intensity of social involvement.
  • The professional organisations involved in development policy have recognised the importance of management and governance matters and have developed general patterns and principles for shaping them. However, institutional models and solutions that appear ideal in a specific governance and spatial context often encounter obstacles to their adaptation. The lack of the necessary administrative, social and knowledge capacities is often cited, but less attention is paid to the factors that explain the lack of capacity at the periphery and the mechanisms that can regenerate it. It is assumed that the differentiation of Community regulation can be adapted to real conditions.
  • An effective community development policy that can mobilise local resources is possible in integrated and decentralised institutional and governance systems that are fundamentally open. The current Hungarian governance system has difficulty in meeting this requirement. It is not only the structure and geographical configuration of territorial governance that is problematic, but also the increasingly hierarchical decision-making model and the limited platforms and mechanisms for involving autonomous actors.
  • The decline of the Baranya County and Pécs, the study area, over the last decades is linked to several factors, but undoubtedly also to the difficulty of representing its interests in the multi-level governance system and the failure to bring together the actors (stakeholders) of the region in a lasting alliance.

Leader of the research group: Ilona Kovács Pálné

Members of the research group:  

Balázs Brucker
László Faragó
István Finta
Zoltán Gál
Zoltán Hajdú
Réka Horeczki
Zoltán Pámer
Péter Póla

Duration of the project:  01.12.2019 – 30.11.2023

Conference presentations by project participants

Horeczki Réka: The centre of the periphery or the periphery of the centre: Pécs case study. 37th International Scientific Conference Krakow, 5-6.12.2021

Brucker Balázs: City diplomacy in Hungary before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. CEPSA, Bled, Slovenia, 2-3.06.2022

Pálné Kovács Ilona: Governance challenges in peripheral areas. IGU UGI Paris, 18-22.07.2022

Brucker Balázs: Alternative Platforms of the European Parliament and the Committee of Regions for the Representation of Interests of Peripheral Areas. IGU UGI Paris, 18-22.07.2022

Pámer Zoltán: Centres and peripheries reflected in distribution patterns of EU Cohesion policy funding in Baranya county. IGU UGI Paris, 18-22.07.2022

Brucker Balázs – Finta István: The opportunities for rural and peripheral areas to assert their interests at EU level. IGU UGI Paris, 18-22.07.2022

Horeczki Réka: Small town’s governance challenges in Hungarian peripheral areas. IGU UGI Paris, 18-22.07.2022

Horeczki Réka – Pálné Kovács Ilona: Governance challenges in peripheral areas in Hungary. Disparities in a Digitalising (Post-Covid) world ERSA, 24-27.08.2022

Finta István: Partnership and MLG in the practice of the EU Commission in the light of a specific case. Disparities in a Digitalising (Post-Covid) world ERSA, 24-27.08.2022

Gibárti Sára: A peripheric centre: the evolving urban development concepts of the city of Pécs. Disparities in a Digitalising (Post-Covid) world ERSA, 24-27.08.2022

Horeczki Réka – P. P. Perceptions of success in peripheral areas of Baranya county. Disparities in a Digitalising (Post-Covid) world ERSA, 24-27.08.2022

Pámer Zoltán: Centres and peripheries reflected in distribution patterns of EU Cohesion policy funding in Baranya county, Hungary. Disparities in a Digitalising (Post-Covid) world ERSA, 24-27.08.2022

Pálné, Kovács Ilona: Is it the time to centralize? In: New Challenges of Local Governance in Times of Uncertainty and Complexity. Annual Conference. IGU-CGoG 2021 Annual Conference, 23 – 24 June 2021. Poznan, Adam Mickiewicz University

Pámer, Zoltán: Overview of territorial governance and territorial integration in development documents of Baranya county, since the eu accession to date. In: New Challenges of Local Governance in Times of Uncertainty and Complexity. Annual Conference. IGU-CGoG 2021 Annual Conference, 23 – 24 June 2021. Poznan, Adam Mickiewicz University

Réka Horeczki – Ilona Pálné Kovács: Governance challanges in Hungary, especially in Baranya county. 60th ERSA Congress: Territorial Futures – Visions and scenarios for a resilient Europe. Bolzano/online, 25-28.08.2021

Brucker Balázs: Representation of interests of the Visegrad Four’s subnational actors in the European Parliament, CEPSA Congress, Olsztyn (Lengyelország), 17-19.11.2021

 

 

 

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