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During the last decades the importance of regions has risen due to the ongoing and accelerating economic integration of the European Union. One obvious effect of the integration is that national borders are less severe obstacles for economic interaction giving rise to regions with geographical parts in more than one country.

Some regions are facing industrial decline and have done so for a long period of time. The consequences of increased unemployment in combination with out-migration decrease the tax-base, which in turn lowers aggregate demand, which give rise a vicious circle.

On the other hand there exists regions that are economically successful and therefore attracts people. This increases the tax-base and aggregate demand, giving rise to a self-supporting good circle. These economic processes lead to larger differences between growing and lagging regions.

Regional policy targets the existing regional differences and aims to improve the future economic development in currently distressed regions. A large portion of the resources for regional policies in Europe originates from the European Union. This is a clear sign that the European Union considers regional inequalities to be a serious matter. There exist a variety of instruments with regional policy ambitions. Depending on the current situation, e.g. differences in regional endowments, infrastructure and education, instruments working in one region may not be as effective in another region.

To analyse what instrument to use and to what extent it should be used policy evaluation studies have a vital role. When it comes to evaluation studies great importance are also placed upon choosing projects with highest possible return.

Related topics to the description above highlighted during the Uddevalla workshop 99 were:

How to identify declining regions?

  • Which are the declining regions?
  • What policy instruments are to be used?
  • Is there an optimal mix of policy instruments to be used?
  • What can be learned from successful regions?
  • What methods to use when evaluating policy?

For more information about publications from the workshop as well as from all Uddevalla Symposia (so far) please click here

Updated by Irene Bernhard