Handbook on Cohesion Policy in the EU
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Handbook on Cohesion Policy in the EU

Edited by Simona Piattoni and Laura Polverari

This Handbook covers all major aspects of EU Cohesion policy, one of the most significant areas of intervention of the European Union. Over five parts, It discusses this policy’s history and governing principles; the theoretical approaches from which it can be assessed; the inter-institutional and multi-level dynamics that it tends to elicit; its practical implementation and impact on EU member states; its interactions with other EU policies and strategies; and the cognitive maps and narratives with which it can be associated. An absolute must for all students of the EU.
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Chapter 22: Smart specialisation in the reformed EU Cohesion policy

Philip McCann and Raquel Ortega-Argilés


The chapter outlines some of the different issues which have come together to help position smart specialisation as a key element in the European Union (EU) Cohesion Policy reform agenda. Policy prioritisation is always a thorny issue, and in the case of heterogeneous regions it is an especially difficult challenge. However, a common set of principles can be identified which help to set innovation and knowledge-related policy interventions on a sound and realistic footing even in diverse environments. The various ideas out of which these principles have emerged are from a range of differing fields and literatures which have converged into a cohesive set of principles. These principles are workable and practicable for helping regions which are designing regional, urban and local developing policies under the overall EU regional policy umbrella. The intellectual incorporation of smart specialisation within the EU regional policy agenda is seen to be consistent both with the broader reform context and also with the interests of different stakeholders and constituencies. Indeed, this is very much part of its appeal, in that it can connect with diverse actors, and therefore be a catalyst for change.

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