A free lunch from the EU? Public perceptions of corruption in cohesion policy expenditure in post-communist EU member states

August 12, 2020

CPS researcher Agnes Batory published an article at Taylor & Francis Online focusing on popular narratives of corruption and abuse in the allocation of the European Structural and Investment Funds.

Under the EU’s cohesion policy, post-communist member states in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) are amongst the largest recipients of European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds. This article focuses on popular narratives of corruption and abuse in the allocation of the funds in the ‘new’ member states. Specifically, it aims to investigate how citizens perceive and evaluate the origins and motivations of the EU for providing the funds, the abuse affecting these resources, and who they blame for the misuse, relying on focus group discussions in Hungary, Romania and Slovenia. Popular narratives indicate that citizens perceive cohesion policy implementation as intertwined with grand corruption. While national political elites are considered as the main culprit, EU institutions are also seen as failing in their duties. These findings are significant because perceived EU inaction against grand corruption undermines notions of European solidarity and damages the EU’s credibility and legitimacy.

Keywords: Cohesion policy, corruption, central and Eastern Europe, focus groups, narrative inquiry

The article is available at Taylor & Francis Online here.