EU PEACE Funding: The policy implementation deficit

Colin Knox, Karl O'Connor, Markus Ketola, Paul Carmichael

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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This article explores the intersection of policy implementation, conflict/peacebuilding, and the role of the EU PEACE program in Northern Ireland (NI). Conflict societies see a great investment of external funds, attempting to promote conflict resolution. Specifically, this article analyses the fourth wave of such funding in NI to examine why the EU PEACE program has not fully brought about its intended policy outcomes. Using Matland's conflict‐ambiguity model of policy implementation, we identify how EU funds can be skewed to support local political interests. Simultaneously, the EU PEACE program continues to adhere to strict implementation criteria that makes little sense given the local context. Therefore, contrary to its objectives, the implementation of EU funding can compound rather than ameliorate divisions in postconflict NI. Instead of prescribing strict implementation criteria, EU policy could focus on improving the administrative capacity and discretion of local administration in devising locally relevant implementation strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-310
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Policy Analysis
Issue number3
Early online date26 May 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 26 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
EU funding supports policies channeled through institutions and organizations that are highly motivated to translate external financial support from outside to serve local needs. When low‐ambiguity administrative implementation meets high‐conflict political implementation, resource allocation is likely to be skewed by local actors that leads, at best, to incomplete implementation and, at worst, misappropriation of the EU programs for alternative purposes. As one interviewee observed:

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. European Policy Analysis published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Policy Studies Organization.


  • EU Peace
  • Governance
  • Matland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Local Government
  • administrative capacity
  • European Union
  • policy implementation
  • Postconflict
  • postconflict


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