This thesis sets out to analyze “Fast Track Networks”, a special kind of city and regional networks and instrument of the European Commission. As there has been no scientific research about the current instrument of Fast Track Networks so far, this thesis fills this research gap.
The aim is to find out the special features of Fast Track Networks in comparing them with the concept of city networks. As a basis for this comparison first a literature review of the two different concepts was conducted after which the concepts were compared.
It was found out that, despite smaller differences, Fast Track Networks are mainly based on the characteristics of conventional networks but do have many additional special features. To find out if these features do not only exist in the concept but also in practice Fast Track Network members were polled with the help of a questionnaire. Additionally the European Commission was interviewed.
The result of the comparison between the concept and practice of Fast Track Networks was that the special features of the concept can also be found in practice. However, not all Fast Track Networks fulfil all characteristics of the concept. Some features were fulfilled very seldom. To improve the concept of Fast Track Networks recommendations were given at the end.
The thesis delivered evidence that Fast Track Networks are a special instrument and provide the European Commission with the possibility to influence the topic for co-operation in the networks and impact the local and regional level of the member states. Nevertheless, because Fast Track Networks are voluntary and not based on any regulations, the concept of Fast Track Networks does not function in the manner it was originally expected or desired. Although the idea of Fast Track Networks was evaluated as a good approach it needs to be improved so as to increase the benefits for all actors.
To do so the Commission should clarify their expectations on Fast Track Networks and either increase the pressure or offer more incentives to ensure the full implementation of the concept. Additionally the Commission could prolong the networking time. Furthermore it is essential to adjust national and Structural Funds regulations to those of EU regulations.
Source: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Author: Caesar, Beate