Reconciling cohesion and competitiveness through EU cluster policies?

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Series Details Vol.28 No.4, December 2007, p327-346
Publication Date December 2007
ISSN 0144-2872
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Article forms part of a special issue of Policy Studies: Industrial and regional policies in an enlarging EU.

This article examines the compatibility of the Lisbon objectives with the EU's long-standing concerns for social, economic and territorial cohesion. In particular, the Commission's policy agenda has been driven since the reform of the Structural Funds in the late 1980s by the concern to improve regional welfare in view of enabling socio-economic convergence across regions and Member States, and, with the introduction of the Lisbon Agenda, of contributing to EU overall competitiveness in the global economy. The article argues that the tension between the (micro-economic element of the) growth and jobs agenda, and the long-standing socio-economic cohesion aims cannot be solved by policies that target either sectors or regions, but can be better reconciled with renewed attention to creating, nourishing, and strengthening immobile factors of local development and competitiveness especially for lagging regions. This would imply 'bottom-up' cluster policies aimed at improving the welfare of socio-economic communities by creating the conditions for the systemic and integrated functioning of their socio-institutional-economic activities.

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