Local actors’ use of European structural funds in urban diversity governance
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This thesis investigates the use of the European structural funds in urban contexts geared towards the governance of increasingly heterogeneous and diverse urban populations. Qualitative guided interviews with local authorities in the cities Leipzig and Rotterdam shed light on the conditions relevant for the local-level use of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) for measures, projects, and policies targeting social cohesion, social upward mobility, and local economic performance. The use of EU structural funds is treated as a case of Europeanisation, with local actors making use of, adapting to, and shaping a specific opportunity structure provided by the EU. The explorative study finds that the traditional Europeanisation account helps to identify local-level and structural determinants of the fund use. Still, some of the rather schematic assumptions of Europeanisation literature, like the degree of fit between EU-level and local-level norms and processes, require a re-conceptualisation if they are to be applied to the study of EU-local interaction via structural funds. For the two cases analysed, a bundle of factors is found to determine fund use: political will and economic need on the local level, the inter-institutional set-up opening up local-level autonomy in fund application and implementation, and the fit of a broad range of external funding opportunities to be targeted at city areas with special needs.