The Regional and Urban Policy of the European Union
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The Regional and Urban Policy of the European Union

Cohesion, Results-Orientation and Smart Specialisation

Philip McCann

The regional and urban development policy of the European Union, or more precisely, EU Cohesion Policy, is undergoing change. This development is driven by the enormous transformations in European regions and by shifts in thinking and analysis. The issues raised by the changes to regional and urban development policy in Europe span many academic disciplines and build on different research methodologies. A broad approach is required in order to address these issues and this book explicitly incorporates insights from a range of different disciplines. After examining the major regional and urban features of the European economy and discussing the analytical underpinnings of the current re-design to EU Cohesion Policy, the book also aims to provide a road map of the various EU regional and urban data-sources which are available to researchers and policy-makers. This book is aimed at all economists, geographers, regional scientists, spatial planners, transportation scientists, sociologists, urban studies researchers, environmental scholars, political scientists and policy-analysts who are interested in regional and urban issues.
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Chapter 2: The regional and urban economies of the European Union

Philip McCann


Working as a local and regional development policy across multiple different countries, EU Cohesion Policy is probably the largest single development policy in the western world (McCann and Ortega-Argilés 2013a, b). However, relating the insights and lessons derived from the experience of EU Cohesion Policy to wider global arenas, and also vice-versa, needs to be undertaken carefully, because Cohesion Policy operates in a unique and very specific context. It is an integrated development policy which works on the basis of a single overarching legal basis, logic and architecture, which is then adapted to the national context of each EU member state. The backdrop to the policy is both interesting and challenging, and a careful assessment of the effects of Cohesion Policy which is predicated on the specifics of the EU context does indeed provide powerful insights and lessons for other parts of the world. Similarly, as will be seen in this book, the insights and lessons from the wider development agenda in other parts of the world have also heavily influenced the Cohesion Policy reforms. However, in order to make these types of discussions fruitful, they need to be underpinned by a good knowledge of the EU context and also an awareness of the logic, architecture and intended role of the policy. The European Union is an enormous and also a highly heterogeneous economic environment.

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