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Goodbye and Thank You

Here, on the threshold of leaving Nordregio, it's time for me to thank everyone in our network; all our contacts within the policy world and of course thanks to all our good colleagues within the research world for fruitful cooperation during the last eight years. It has, in many ways, been challenging but also very rewarding.

Nordregio is as an international institute dealing with applied research. We depend on good relations with public authorities and policy makers dealing with regional development and policy in many countries. At the same time, as a relatively small institute, we are also very dependent on collaboration with other research institutes and private firms all over Europe.

Here, it has been a great experience to always be greeted with open doors and obliging attitudes.

During these eight years the world has changed in many ways. An important illustration of this has been the shift from an optimistic belief in an increasingly integrated Europe with the ability to cope with the big challenges related to climate change and the growing competition from the fast developing countries in Asia to pessimism and disagreement at the European level, while the world economy is also cooling down.

Regional policy is of course influenced by such trends. Regional development tends to become more complex at European level and differentiated in periods of recession and slow economic growth, compared with periods of high economic growth. Peripheral regions are not necessarily hit harder by recessions than metropolitan regions. At the same time, the differences between European countries are growing, which makes the European regional pattern even more multifaceted.

The response from the EU Commission has been that regional policy should make more efficient and coordinated use of the means and resources for regional development and territorial cohesion in the next programme period and at the same time have a more place based approach. Policy shall take a point of departure in the specific social and economic conditions within respective territories.

This is a big challenge for regional policy because our knowledge and understanding of what is driving regional growth and how these drivers are dependent on specific place based conditions is in fact still quite limited. Here, institutions like Nordregio have to show their value and ability to provide the policymaking process with evidence and new perspectives on regional development.

Therefore, I would like to wish good luck to those who have the responsibility for developing the future regional policy, the civil servants and the politicians of course and not the least to Nordregio and colleagues all over Europe.