RELOCAL (Resituating the local in cohesion and territorial development)

Location matters. Where one is born and raised (still) determines to a considerable extent one’s opportunities and constrictions and it also impacts on one’s personality. After a long period of catching-up for most of the disadvantaged regions, inequalities among regions within Member States are now growing again.

There is an increasing need for developing European Union Cohesion Policy in terms of greater sensitivity towards territorial specificities, more supportive of community-based development and the facilitation of greater civic participation. This also relates to the concern over decreasing identification with the European project among the population. Place-based development, endogenous regional development and territorial capital are some of the policy approaches that have been invoked to facilitate a reorientation of Cohesion Policy and territorial development policy. These need to be connected more specifically to notions of the local and localism. RELOCAL will target this objective by exploring in depth the two dimensions underlying the challenge described in the Call text. The project will be based on case studies of local contexts (e.g. cities and their regions) that exemplify development challenges in terms of spatial justice.

Among the research questions that have been identified are the following:

  • How can spatial justice be conceptualised, operationalised, adapted?
  • How processes of territorial inequalities in different localities be understood and analysed?
  • How does the local relate to cohesion in an EU context?
  • What factors and filters are operating that enhance or limit the relation between the local and cohesion? What might bridge abstract notions of spatial justice and local practises on the one hand and CP on the other?
  • Is there a territorial trap in thinking locally, endogenously? Can enhanced autonomy contribute to spatial justice? How can processes of place-making be related to spatial justice?
  • What is the scope for alternative development, stabilisation, sustainability, solidarity models/scenarios?

Nordregio is the leader of WP2, ‘Mapping patterns of inequality and change’. The overall aim of the work package is to measure and describe regional inequalities across Europe and over time, and in this way provide a better understanding of the linkages between regional conditions and socio-economic outcomes. This work package responds to the call by exploring socio-economic disparities at the regional level making use of existing data sources to provide an overview of patterns and changes in spatial inequalities at the level of EU regions.

The specific objectives of this work package are to:

  • Define a methodology to measure and analyse territorial cohesion and measure and map territorial developments at different regional scales;
  • Measure, analyse, and map spatial inequalities over time at the level of EU regions, with an emphasis on the recent period since the 2008 economic crisis;
  • Analyse patterns of social and economic of regional disparities across Europe and within countries across a number of indicators
  • Provide input to the WP: Case Studies, to guide in the selection of different types of regions to be included.

For more information please visit the project website:

Download Case Study Report: Digital Västerbotten