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N. Yearbook (2020): Italia contemporanea yearbook 2020

The European Economic Community’s regional policy during the ‘age of disorder’. From ‘harmonious development’ to market-oriented policies (1972-1987)

  • Antonio Bonatesta
20 luglio 2021


This article examines the transformation of the European Economic Community’s (EEC) regional policy paradigms from the early 1970s, when negotiations for the creation of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) began, until the approval of the Single European Act. The article identifies this period as the beginning of a deep transition from demand-side “interventionist” and “neo-mercantilist” models — typical of certain regional policies used up to that time by member states (primarily by Italy) — towards more openly neoliberal models. My analysis of the harsh conflicts within the Regional Policy Committee (the national technocracies’ representative body in charge of managing the ERDF) and between the committee and the European Commission demonstrate that this outcome was not at all taken for granted. It was determined, above all, by the overload of objectives of EEC regional policy in a context of scarce resources, and by the progressive lack of trust in the role of public intervention.


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