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The ESPON 2013 Operational Programme
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Relative regional resilience, 2011

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Map
data source and more Map: ESPON Economic Crisis: Resilience of Regions (ECR2),
EuroGeographies Association of administrative boundaries
Data sources: Experian, Eurostat, Various dates
 

  • The resilience i.e. the ability to resist shocks is in most European regions equivalent to their country‚Äôs average resilience level.
  • Southern European regions are more influenced by country-level policies and macroeconomic conditions than regions in the North.
  • Urban areas tend to be more resilient given their increased accessibility and broader economic base and openness.
  • Isolated and border regions tend to be less resilient, especially in the case of mountainous regions.

Observations for policy

National policies and macro-level conditions are more important for Southern Europe than for the North, where regions typically behave differently from their nation’s trend. Urban areas in particular, such as areas around London, the Dutch Randstad, Brussels, Budapest or Bucharest, contribute to the increased resilience of their surrounding area. On the contrary, border regions and isolated regions such as Northern Scandinavia, Southern Poland or Eastern France tend to be less resilient. This suggests an important role for local economies and a need for increasing the accessibility of isolated regions. Such objectives are prioritised in the Territorial Agenda 2020 and policies such as TEN-T or the Connecting Europe Facility.

Policy context

Balanced territorial development is one of Europe‚Äôs core priorities for 2020, as mentioned in the Territorial Agenda 2020, and as suggested by the Europe 2020 strategy. At EU-level, policies such as TEN-T (the EU transport infrastructure policy) and the Connecting Europe Facility, focused on improving accessibility in communication across EU regions, work together to counteract the problem of remote or less-integrated regions. This is also a feature in the 2014 ‚Äď 2020 EU Cohesion Policy, which funds three types of territorial cooperation. Furthermore, the Cohesion Policy sets as a thematic objective the removal of bottlenecks in key network infrastructures, as well as the promotion of employment and the support of labour mobility. With more mobility and accessibility, resilience can be increased throughout Europe. Financial instruments for large mobility projects are made available by the European Investment Bank, which is also a partner in the JASPERS initiative, a technical assistance tool for Eastern and Southeast European countries to prepare major EU-funded projects. These tools contribute to a more balanced territorial development in Europe, and to an overall strengthening of regional resilience to both GDP and employment.

Map interpretation

National policies and macroeconomic conditions at state-level have a considerable influence in determining regional resilience, this is stronger in the South (i.e. in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece) and weaker in the North (i.e. Germany, Sweden, UK, Benelux). This North-South divide is shown by the fact that most regions in the Southern Europe follow the resilience pattern of their other national counterparts, whereas in the North such patterns are more divers. Where most regions in one country have similar resilience patterns, national policies and macroeconomic conditions strongly influence regional performance. Such patterns are less distinguishable in Northern Europe, where regional resilience performance tends to diverge from national trends. Here, urban centres (especially in The Netherlands, UK, Belgium, Hungary) help enforce their region’s resilience, whereas regions which are remote, mountainous, coastal or at the border tend to be less resilient (as it is the case in Baden-Wurttemberg, South Poland, North Scandinavia or South Hungary). Therefore, accessibility plays an important role in these variations in resilience.

In Germany and Poland, a large number of regions that are less resilient than the national average are observed. This partly reflects the better level of national resilience recorded in the two countries. One explanation for this phenomenon is that these regions’ weight in calculating the national resilience level is relatively small, due to the fact that employment numbers are lower than in other regions and their significant changes in these regions, when put in a national context, do not greatly influence the country’s average resilience.

Concepts and methods

Resilience is here defined as the ability of a regional economy to adapt to internal or external economic shocks. A territory is considered resilient if, by 2011, its level of employment (or GDP) is equal to or greater than pre-crisis peak levels. Relative resilience is the measure of a region’s resilience variation compared to the national average level of resilience. The focus is on employment resilience, and a comparison between regional and national resilience levels is made. This is converted into a score, allowing a classification whether the region was more or less resilient than the national economy.


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