Europeanization - Fashionable Notion or Inspiring Conceptual Frames?
Europeanization is not a new term, but only throughout the recent two decades it has turned into a notion very frequently used in social science. It seems there are two reasons for its success: (1) the intensification of European integration in the late 1980's and (2) the development of the conceptual studies on Europeanization. Numerous theoretical approaches elaborated under the term have stimulated its popularity, yet they have also raised a critical question on the empirical usefulness of the broadly and vaguely defined concept. In the article the concept of Europeanization is taken under scrutiny. Recently developed multiple attitudes to Europeanization are critically discussed and presented with reference to the broader body of the literature on European integration. The considerations end with a short revision of possible empirical usages of the popular term in Polish context. This aim has been triggered by a shortage of references to the widely discussed concept in Polish literature. Polish debate on repercussions of the membership in the European Union may be significantly enriched by a thoughtful reference to the popular, even though controversial concept. Being aware of its shortcomings we can make a better use of its advantages.
The paper investigates into the specific features of the residents living in the metropolitan areas (MAs) in Poland. Basing on the statistical data and survey conducted in the two Polish MAs we draw conclusions on the spatial and political behaviour of metropolitan residents and on their territorial identity. The results show that a fair share of metropolitan residents live in a scale wider then their home municipality. Moreover some citizens (especially those who migrated to suburbs recently and those with higher education) reveal stronger spatial identity with the whole metropolitan area then with their home municipality. Delocalisation is also reflected in the lack of interest in municipal politics and low trust in suburb municipal politicians, while their interest in general politics remains on a high level.
In this paper, we address the issue of metropolitan governance by examining its current state and the factors responsible for that state in Poland and the U.S. We find that, despite numerous differences between the two nations, the state of metropolitan governance is quite similar in both. That is, neither country exhibits examples of well-developed metropolitan governance. What is even more interesting is that the factors responsible for this situation are quite similar in both countries. Our principal finding is that political factors (mainly having to do with citizens’ preferences and the resulting lack of support for metropolitan institutions) have prevented the development of metropolitan governance in both. Moreover, because of the strength of these political factors, the current state of metropolitan governance in Poland and the U.S. is not likely to change in the foreseeable future, even under the presumed pressure of economic competitiveness.
The paper focuses on the institutional solutions adopted in various Polish metropolitan regions due to the requirement to create structures facilitating the operation of Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI) in the 2014–2020 EU financial perspective. This phenomenon is analysed in the light of the process of the launching and functioning of metropolitan cooperation and of the concept of Europeanization. Our considerations are based on the assumption that past attempts to institutionalize metropolitan cooperation influence the process of the creation and functioning of ITI cooperation. Our research has confirmed this proposition. We found various reactions to the top-down incentive in all of the investigated metropolitan regions. In general four main types of situation are identified depending on past metropolitan cooperation and its relation to the ITI institutions. On the national level an interesting “double top-down” pressure was discovered, as the EU guidelines have been made much stricter by the Polish government, turning an incentive for local actors into a must. Finally, Integrated Territorial Investment has enlivened metropolitan governance in Poland, which is interesting to follow in the future, especially as it has no connection to other national regulations proposed for metropolitan regions.
Based on a survey of inter-municipal unions (IMUs) and inter-municipal companies (IMComs) in Poland, this article identifies the most common motives for launching inter-municipal cooperation and the most frequently reported outcomes. The declared motives are compared with the perceived outcomes, with a particular focus on mismatch situations: disappointments (when the expected gain was not realised) and unexpected outcomes (when the reported outcomes exceeded initial expectations). The research shows that the latter are reported more frequently than the former. The most frequently indicated motives for cooperation were related to financial benefits and included cost reduction and applying for additional funding. The “defensive” motive of IMC – cooperation to maintain the status quo – is practically absent. The data also suggests that cooperation can be perceived as “a value in its own right”.
One of the conditions for effective water resources management in protected areas is local decision makers’ knowledge about potential threats caused by climate changes. Our study, conducted in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Tuchola Forest in Poland, analyses the perception of threats by local stakeholders. Their assessments of the sensitivity of four lakes to the extreme weather events are compared with hydrological studies. The survey shows that the lakes’ varying responses to extreme weather conditions is rarely noticed by ordinary observers. Their perception is usually far from the hydrological facts, which indicates a lack of relevant information or a failure in making it widely accessible and understandable. Moreover, it is rather the human impact, not climate change, which is seen as the biggest threat to the lakes. Insufficient environmental knowledge may hinder the effective protection and management of natural resources, due to bad decisions and lack of the local communities’ support for adaptation and mitigation policies.