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Territorial potentials in the European Union

This paper which was commissioned by the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications during the current Swedish EU presidency aims to identify and discuss some of the most important territorial potentials in the European Union. According to the EU Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion, the territorial diversity of European regions is a vital asset in economic development and competitiveness. WP 2009:6

The purpose of EU Cohesion Policy at the European level is to contribute to the Lisbon and Gothenburg objectives for growth, jobs and sustainable development. More specifically, the Cohesion Policy should promote the cohesion of the EU-territory by improving the use of all available resources in Europe's regions.

The concept of territorial potential relates to numerous factors. These factors can be divided into tangible assets, such as natural and human resources, and intangible assets, like organisation, culture, social issues and governance. Un-mobilised territorial assets constitute territorial potentials that may be realised through policies and actions at various administrative levels. Seen against the backdrop of the deepest global economic slowdown in generations the identification of regional potentials and, furthermore, the elaboration of strategies and policies that might enable and facilitate the European regions to fully exploit these potentials, is more important than ever.

To strengthen competitiveness one of the main challenges facing policy-makers and other concerned actors across the regions of Europe is to identify and mobilise the territorial potentials necessary for the creation of new jobs and sustainable economic growth. Understanding the nature of territorial potentials requires a process of analysing access to different types of resources in order to gain a more detailed knowledge of the economic base of the region. However, it also requires a regional process for prioritising and coordinating relevant stakeholders and policy-fields in order to implement the necessary policy initiatives.