The principal problems membership of the EU has brought to the regions of Britain.

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This essay then attempts to highlight some of the principal problems membership of the EU has brought to the regions of Britain and the impact Community policies designed to lessen these problems have had. It also endeavours to show how membership of the EU has affected traditional national government policies implemented to reduce regional disparities.

Probably the most significant impact membership of the European Union has had on regional development in the UK is regards a deepening of the north-south divide. Although only politically recognised in the 1980s this divide has a history that stretches back to the original location of major manufacturing activity in the north of the UK. Beginning with the extraction of coal to fuel the industrial revolution, this acted as a catalyst which initiated a process of cumulative causation in northern areas and consequently led to the development of shipbuilding, textile, iron and steel and port-based activities. It was industries such as these that constituted the springboard for British expansion abroad and dominated the functionality of the regions major conurbations (Champion and Townsend, 1990).

according to EU sources the south-east recorded a GDP per capita 30 per cent above the EU average in 1988, whilst regions in the north averaged 10 per cent below EU levels (Wise and Gibb, 1993). The recent opening of the Channel Tunnel link, providing the south with fast access to the European economic heartland threatens to deepen this divide further. wwab abw esababs ayab abba nab kcab abuk; wwde dew

The Single European Act provided the legal muscle that made the target of a Single European Market by 1992 a realistic possibility (Franklin, 1990). It prevented the creation of new and began a process of harmonisation for existing legislation (including taxation and excise duties etc.) aimed at stabilising the Community's internal market and increasing the mobility of capital, labour and goods (Minshull, 1990). Consequently, a new European trading bloc has been created in which competition between companies (and countries) has increased.

Objective Percentage allocation structural funds

1. Regions lagging behind in development 63

2. Regions in industrial decline 12

3. Long-term unemployment 6

4. Youth training/employment 6

5a. Adaptation of agricultural structures 6

5b. Development of rural areas 5

Whilst this new ranking does offer some glimmer of hope for the Merseyside and Highlands region in the shape of new available capital for the area, their slide down the rankings is perhaps indicative of the general failure of EU regional policy. This failure is still predominantly attributable to the woeful lack of capital in the structural funds, a factor that is seen to be inextricably linked with the overfunding of the Common Agricultural Policy. Another reason that explains its apparent ineffectiveness is however related to the subversive activities of (the UK) government and their treatment of the funds. Whereas the structural funds are supposed to supplement national government grants to problem regions the UK government has in many cases been solely utilising EU aid, justifying the decision via reference to the large UK contribution to the CAP and the budgetary deficit it leaves (Financial Times, 1991, Hitiris, 1991, Times, 1991, Marks, 1992, Financial Times, 1993). The conflict between the EU and UK over this matter has been so intense that "Ministers have been warned over [a loss of] £1 billion EC aid" (Financial Times, 1993, p8a) if they do not start conforming to the rules and matching EU allocations.

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When the UK finally decided and was eventually acceded to the EC in 1973 it was because of a realisation in the country that a significant and momentous change had occurred on the European continent that threatened to leave Britain, as a small, isolated island, behind. Consequently, the UK joined because it offered national advantages. However, the very nature of the 'common' policies which, since membership, threaten to undermine some of the UK's sovereignty have also had important implications for regional development in the UK since all regions are not homogenous.

This essay then attempts to highlight some of the ...

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