Workshop: The challenges of rebalancing national and regional economies: human capital, natural assets and environmental sustainability

OPEN DAYS 2012: European Week of Cities and Regions - Brussels, Belgium

Date and time

10th October 2012, 14:30-17:00


European Commission, DG REGIO C1 and the Regional Studies Association (RSA)


Professor Andrew Beer, University of Adelaide, Australia


Professor Michael Steiner, University of Graz

Rebalancing Regional Economies? Policy Lessons From New Perspectives On Institutions For Innovation

This paper outlined the strong changes currently taking place with regional development such as the deviation of its initial primary objectives and the increase of agents involved and policies. It was also mentioned that the regional dimension of economic policy had gained importance. Examples of recently adopted policy reforms were presented as well as new underlying motivations and it was argued that rebalancing regional economies would mean moving away from convergence criteria to focus on adjustment and transformation criteria, introduce contractual arrangements for promoting the institutional changes appropriate to localities and find a common platform to bring together the top down and bottom up polices. 

Dr. Lisa de Propris, University of Birmingham, UK

Rebalancing of Sectors
Rebalancing economies is all about context but is there a need to rebalance or reset the economies? It was argued that as rebalancing meant moving back to a previous equilibrium, there maybe was a need to introduce the concept of ‘change’ to the equation. A crisis is an opportunity to move forward with innovative ideas and cannot be wasted as it is essential to be ready to ensure that when growth starts again, regions are ready for it. Creative industries were put forward as active players in local and regional innovation systems and an investment from governments in infrastructure as a key driver in innovation and development.

Professor Andrew Beer, University of Adelaide, Australia

The Challenge of Rebalancing National and Regional Economies: Human Capital, Natural Assets And Environmental Sustainability In Australia
This presentation was contrasting to the others as it mainly presented the case for Australia and its ‘economic miracle’ as an alternative view and good practice case in the context of rebalancing economies. Australia was shown here as a unique case of a patchwork nation and highlighted the results of the combination of social processes such as the engagement with global trade (mineral production as a commodity to increase export earnings), a federal system of government and a concentration on rebalancing the agricultural and environmental sectors.   It was argued that a market based approach to answer the questions of economy and society may have challenged the development of effective measures for rebalancing growth but that open economies benefited the flexibility of markets.

Professor John Tomaney, University College London, UK

Rebalancing the UK Economy: Results And Prospects
Rebalancing is a key phase in the context of disparities across regions and in the UK this process has been attempted by abolishing the concept of regions and replacing it with local action (regionalism to localism) which has led to entrenched spatial disparity, a change in the policy framework and austerity, showing the UK as a good case study for Europe. It was also argued that rebalancing was not considered a policy framework and that a shift needed to be seen from the South to the North with a growing dominance of the financial economy being in the South (London). But a large question remained: How do we get beyond the labour/conservative dilemma and ensure a balanced development?


The UK has accumulated and entrenched disparities and showed comparatively weak local and regional institutions together with a lack of long term strategies. The British debate about ‘appropriate’ scales of rebalancing instead of the contents of rebalancing was also noted as a current issue.

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