Regional challenges in the perspective of 2020 - Regional disparities and future challenges - Synthesis
"This paper provides a concise analysis of the potential impacts of key challenges such as globalisation, demographic change, climate change, energy and new social risks on regional disparities in Europe in the period up to 2020. The challenges reviewed here are relevant for other parts of the world as well as Europe and will require responses at many levels - global, European, national, regional and local.
This paper is particularly concerned with regional impacts and more especially the potential effect of new challenges on convergence or divergence of trends in regional income and well-being within the European Community and neighbouring areas. The present paper is based upon 5 thematic workshops held between March and June 2009 in Brussels and the background papers prepared by experts in preparation of the workshops. The paper is also based upon a new analysis produced by the Regional Future network itself, as well as prior research by international institutions and scholars. The study team has carried out the analysis using a definition of the challenges considered more suitable for the aim of the study on regional disparities; definitions which would allow to identify and measure effect on disparities more directly were adopted. Furthermore, we avoided as far as possible the overlapping between definitions of challenges and their manifestation, which we call features of the challenge. This approach implies that each feature has been analyzed only within one challenge, even if it was relevant for others as well. The purpose was to clarify and simplify the conceptual framework of the analysis in which the number of links among challenges is very high and their direction and sign is difficult to define. In other words, we made sure that each individual feature of the challenges was analyzed once, in coherence with the challenge boundaries set by its definition.
This method allows us to make clear hypothesis on the two sided nature of each phenomenon and of its features; many features of the challenges in fact can benefit as well as penalize regions depending on the economic and social structure, the geography and location and also the geo-economic position of each region. Most of these factors are strongly influenced by the National characteristics of the Member State to which they belong. To carry out the analysis we defined a model based on a definition of sensitivity to the challenge which summarizes the vulnerability of each region under that challenge and gives us a parameter to estimate the likely impact of the challenge on its economic performance. The sensitivity parameters of each region were then related to a set of hypothesis of challenge intensity (scenarios), namely how fast and how strong the challenge impact would affect EU regions and give rise to income disparities."
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