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Our workshop with the Local Managing Authorities in Burgenland, Austria: the partnership principle and an interesting paradox in Cohesion Policy appreciation

02/10/2018 | Vienna University of Economics and Business | Workshop | WP1, WP2, WP3, WP7

Our workshop with the Local Managing Authorities in Burgenland, Austria: the partnership principle and an interesting paradox in Cohesion Policy appreciation

PERCEIVE workshop in Austria was organized in Eisenstadt (Burgenland region) with the participation of local stakeholder organisations, including representatives of the local managing authority (LMA), the Fachhochschule Burgenland, the local government, and of social partners such as labour or industrial associations. Read further to find out the results.

Cohesion Policy Governance: a good practice emerging from the Austrian tradition of balancing interests

Throughout the comparative analysis, Burgenland often emerged as one of the most positively assessed case study regions. Indeed, participants of the workshop affirmed many of the positive points raised, such as the partnership principle between funding agencies, the provincial government, and social actors underlying the programming phase of cohesion policy that was described by the LMA representative as a particularity of Burgenland in line with the Austrian tradition of balancing interests.

Another aspect underlined by the attendees was the administrative obstacles: LMA representatives highlighted difficulties in explaining the complex funding framework to project beneficiaries, especially in light of the prevalence of micro-enterprises within the region.

What do citizens think of Cohesion Policy in the region?

Participants were further presented with results regarding appreciation for cohesion policy: out of the 50 per cent of respondents who had heard of financed projects in their region, only around 25 per cent indicated having experienced a personal benefit from such projects. At the same time, results regarding appreciation towards EU membership in Burgenland showcased high regard (68 per cent) – indicating an interesting paradox. The LMA representative explained this by saying that it was not funding as such that was seen as bad, but the unequal conditions of competition put in place through cohesion policy funding.

Feedback was collected regarding the use of social media: one of the participants pointed to the upcoming EU elections, in which the European Parliament had invited influencers to target young people. In general, they thought, that young people were easier to target as the EU could be communicated not merely through projects, but as a “positive emotion”.

In general, participants explained that as long as migration problems or Brexit remained unresolved, citizens would not register any other EU input. The LMA representative also suggested that survey results from a few years ago – when negative topics were not drowning out cohesion policy results – were more favourable. Other mentions included the tendency to portray the EU in a negative light and sell regional development as own success.

Policy recommendations were dedicated to communication methods and targets: for instance, universities and schools were put forward and praised for their multiplier effects. Respondents generally agreed that understanding was important to prevent incidents such as Brexit: if citizens knew that something good is happening, they would not be as quick to follow populist messages. 

 

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Disclaimer!

This contribute gives highlights on what is the work in progress of PERCEIVE Project research. By the end of the project, in August 2019, policy implementation and communication guidelines will be finalized as recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners.

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