Governance in the European Union has become increasingly complex and multi-facetted in the last decades. The article argues that the ESF (European Social Fund) is a crucial example in this regard since it combines financial incentives, procedural requirements and programmatic conditions. In order to analyse local responses to this complex governance tool, the article deploys analytical tools from the Europeanization literature and builds on in-depth case knowledge from 18 cities in six European countries. A QCA (Qualitative Comparative Analysis) combined with case discussions reveals three different types of responses to the ESF. In ‘transformer-cases’, both usage of the ESF and change brought by it can be observed. In ‘cream-skimmer-cases’, only usage but no change was measured, and in ‘refusenik-cases’, neither usage nor change was detected. While usage of the ESF can be explained by individual motivation of local actors or the incentivizing dimension of the funds, change is apparently more complex.
Zimmermann, Katharina (2016): Local Responses to the European Social Fund: A Cross-City Comparison of Usage and Change. Journal of Common Market Studies, Early View, 14 June 2016.