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Regional Economic Blocs, Cross-Border Cooperation, and Local Economic Strategies in Post-Socialism: Politics, Policies and Prospects .

By Bob Jessop

Abstract

I focus on the former Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance or CMEA) countries and examine the complex relations among (a) their attempts to move from state socialism to capitalism; (b) the formulation and implementation of proposals for supranational regional economic blocs, cross-border cooperation, and local economic strategies; and (c) the influence of various kinds of transnational, national, regional, and local agencies and governance mechanisms. This focus can be justified by the link between external structural adjustment and domestic restructuring in postsocialist economies and the complex spatial organization of capitalist economic relations. The CMEA's collapse has disrupted established regional linkages in the former Soviet bloc and opened opportunities for strategies oriented to greater subnational autonomy as well as supranational economic integrations. It has also left a legacy of interdependencies that constrain and limit the chances of successful integration into new regional economic systems even before one take account of the inadequacies of the policymaking and governance mechanisms developed so far to pursue these goals. In short, the forms and outcome of economic transformation will depend both on the local and regional dimensions of the emerging postsocialist economies themselves and on the position of different economic and political forces in relation to emerging postsocialist and/or capitalist regional blocs. In pursing this agenda the article first examines various discontinuities and continuities in Eastern and central Europe that bear on its economic transformation. It then reviews major changes in the capitalist economy into which some forces in the postsocialist economies are trying to become integrated. Given the complex dialectic between internationalization and regionalization involved in these changes, it then examines the problematic status of �regions�, proposes to interpret them as �imagined� economic spaces, and notes some basic material differences between regions in postsocialist and capitalist societies. The discursive character of regions is further illustrated through a brief review of 10 different types of supranational regional economic strategies proposed for one or more postsocialist societies. Then the article reviews subnational strategies for regional cooperation and development in postsocialist economies. These general overviews of regional strategies are followed by some brief comments on specific countries, but no attempt is made a comprehensive survey of developments in every postsocialist economy. The article concludes with some general remarks on present trends and future prospects in regional economic strategies and developments within and beyond the postsocialist bloc. In particular, it identifies some of the most important factors inhibiting the successful realization of local, cross-border, and supranational regional strategies

Year: 1995
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lancs.ac.uk:243
Provided by: Lancaster E-Prints

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Citations

  1. Although Uzbekistan (20.3m) and Kazakhstan (16.7m) were more populous than Belarus they accounted for only 3.3 and 4.3 per cent of net output respectively.
  2. collapse and the changes it entails are themselves modifying the impact of other changes (see below for more details).
  3. (1990). Even at the most abstract level of analysis, capital accumulation rests on a complementary but contradictory mix of commodity and non-commodity forms.
  4. (1992). For some of the problems involved in such endeavours, see Langhammer
  5. however, substantive measures of redistribution, whether in industrial location decisions or attempts to equalize living conditions, were often counteracted by plan-induced disparities within and across regions.
  6. (1993). Indeed Nester concludes that it would make more sense for Japan to invest in Eastern and Central Europe, since this would provide an export platform to the European Community and to the former Soviet republics
  7. (1993). Indeed Turkey hoped to become to the Asian republics what Germany was to Europe (cited in Gençkaya
  8. (1992). On the fragmentation of local authorities in post-socialist conditions, see Enyedi
  9. (1993). On the problems posed by population migration, see especially Pchelintsev
  10. (1990). On the rediscovery of the value of the locality in the 1980s and its implications for relocalization
  11. Only the Latvia-Estonia border is truly uncontested.
  12. Russia has established the port city of Kaliningrad as the largest free enterprise zone in the world and it should serve as a gateway to the western provinces (cf.
  13. the acronym for Pologne Hongrie assistance à la reconstruction économique; the programme has since been extended to Bulgaria, the former Czechoslovakia, the former East Germany,
  14. The blue banana is so-called because of its shape (analogous to that of the ‘banana’ curving from the Home Counties around London through the Benelux countries, northern France, and central Germany, to northern Italy) and its axis around the Baltic sea.
  15. (1991). The reference is to Benedict Anderson’s work on the nation as an ‘imagined’ community; the region is also an ‘imagined’ entity (see Anderson
  16. The republics could win political independence with relative ease because their right to secede was formally recognized in the Soviet constitution.
  17. These comprise: the Neisse Euroregion; the Elbe-Labe Euroregion; the Ertzgebirge Euroregion; and the Egrensis Euroregion. doi
  18. These three post-socialist economies committed themselves to a gradual removal of trade barriers to EC exports over five years whilst the EC member states agreed a one-step liberalization of imports from the Visegrad three.
  19. This can be contrasted with the Belarus case - where independence and CIS membership was the quickest route into the European Union; and the Russian case, where the CIS seemed the Page 35 best chance of maintaining the old Soviet Union (cf. Likhotal
  20. This term is used by the Institute for Economic Planning for Peace to describe economic integration which depends less on cooperation among central authorities than on links between local and autonomous bodies in different countries (European Commission
  21. trade and/or free enterprise zones are also significant in the far eastern provinces.
  22. (1992). We should note that Baldwin

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