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Economic Crises: Regional Resilience

The economic crisis currently engulfing advanced western economies represents one of the greatest challenges facing the European economy in over 50 years.

The differential effects of this across Europe has highlighted the advantages of those local and regional economies that have greater economic 'resilience', and stimulated interest in what might make some regions more resilient than others.

In recognition of this, the ESPON programme has commissioned a study on Economic Crises: Regional Resilience. Known by the acronym ECR2, the study is being led by the School of Geography and Planning, on behalf of a partnership of seven leading European institutions.

Objectives of the study

This study is being lead by the School of Geography and Planning and is financed through the EU’s EPSON research programme. It will explore the economic resilience of regions across the EU, looking at the features that enhance the ability of a region to weather economic crises and in turn how regional authorities are able to strengthen this. The study will examine data for all EU regions, plus neighbouring countries such as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Croatia. It will also look in more detail at the situation in particular regions, such as Wales, Southern Ireland and Central Macedonia in Greece.

The focus will be on understanding why some regions have recovered faster than others from the recent economic crisis, and what regional policy-makers can do to enhance the resilience of regional economies for the future. As a result, this study will be of interest to policy makers at a European, national and regional level, as well as academics working in this field. It will also be of interest to those that are involved with the development of their community. We are very pleased to be at the vanguard of international work in this area.


A wide range of activities will be undertaken by the project to ensure an expansive review of regional resilience throughout Europe. Initially there will be testing of patterns of resilience across the EU as a whole using available indicators, this will also look at the impact of previous economic crises. This will provide a strong guide as to where in the EU impacts have most strongly been felt and whether (and what) particular types of region have been most significantly affected. Following this, an analysis of the components of resilience will be carried out, using data gathered through the historic recession analysis but will look at smaller regions.  This stage should identify those regions that appear to be resilient, or to recover efficiently, and explore the factors underpinning this.

Finally, the ideas developed throughout the project will be explored through the analysis of practice in eight regions which can be considered some of the more 'extreme' cases of the EU. The case studies will explore the opportunities and limitations and provide a useful way of testing some of the components of resilience that will have been uncovered through earlier data analysis.

The case studies will also provide a valuable opportunity to explore the extent to which regional authorities are capable of providing the development conditions needed to develop a new way of doing things. The case studies will also explore the way in which different regions are trying to recover from the current crisis, including promoting innovation, the green economy and/or providing support to small and medium size businesses.


This research was made possible through the support of the following organisations: