Project: Soft Spaces in EU Cohesion Policy. Opportunities and Challenges in the Coordination of Heterogeneous Interests.
ESR 2 : Stefan Telle (Host: STU)
The project assumes a link between successive rounds of EU integration and the creation – largely driven by EU cohesion policy – of different types of “soft spaces” (i.e. cross-border, transnational, and interregional cooperation, and macro-regional strategies). Soft spaces are understood, here, as attempts to coordinate increasingly heterogeneous interest positions across various scales. These interests are, however, rooted in the ever more diverse life-worlds of an essentially open-ended European territory. Therefore, this attempt to render EU decision-making more responsive to diversity encounters the following dilemma: As increasingly diverse life-worlds are brought into the realm of the political, they confront each other as a plurality of interest positions and, thereby, are brought into sharp relief.
The project will focus on the factors that enable or inhibit successful political interest-coordination (in terms of consensus-seeking and mutual learning) among a set of heterogeneous actors in a weak institutional environment (soft space). The macro-regional approach in cohesion policy constitutes such a setting. Hence, the project analyses processes of interest-coordination among five groups of actors ( the Commission,  the contributing and  the receiving member states, as well as local  state and  non-state actors) in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. In particular, the research centres upon the relationship between economic and social objectives in both, the conceptualization and the implementation phase of the macro-region.
Thilo Lang (Project coordinator):
Franziska Görmar (Project manager): F_Goermar@ifl-leipzig.de
Franziska Weyrich (Financial manager): F_Weyrich@ifl-leipzig.de
WP leader for Dissemination and Outreach activities: MEPCO