Tom 39 - Post-agricultural rural space of the Visegrad countries: economies, entrepreneurship and policies
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The main aim of this paper is to provide a comparative analysis of regional policies dealing with peripheral rural areas in the Visegrad countries from a historical perspective. As it is demonstrated in the paper despite the common political and ideological framework the goals and means of regional policy remained rather different in these countries during state-socialism. The systemic changes demanded the re-conceptualisation of regional development policy and the reconfiguration of the institutional background. As the comparative policy analysis showed in the early 1990s there was a lack of coherent regional policy that would efficiently mitigate growing regional disparities or foster regional competitiveness. The conceptual, legal and institutional foundation of the new regional policy took place in the second half of the 1990s, with some time lag among the countries. In the formulation of strategic documents regarding regional policy the foreseen EU accession played a very important role. The preparation of national development plans were based on the EU’s standardized development handbooks, therefore a considerable similarity among the new member states’ regional policy documents can be observed. One can say that earlier differences in regional development priorities were gradually eliminated by the European integration among the new member states. However, rural areas were considered in regional economic development policies only in the context of agriculture and tourism development. In addition to local infrastructural development, preservation of natural and cultural heritage, job creation only agriculture and tourism were defined for EU and national subsidies.