38th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Europe Quo Vadis? - Regional Questions at the Turn of the Century", 28 August - 1 September 1998, Vienna, Austria
The regional policy of the Swiss federal government which traditionally based on two micro-regions support programmes has recently known a phase of new orientation in which the issue of the right institutional setting for the new challenges, which the regional policy has to meet, was at the center of the debate. It was felt that in an era of globalization and mounting international competition, neither the subcantonal regions of the traditional regional policy, nor the cantons, would be suitable institutional settings for the needs of a policy whose main aim in the future will be the strenghtening of the competitive position of the regions, in the national and in the international context. The paper we would like to present at the congress will deal with this issue. In a first section we will present the state of the debate on micro- and macro-regions as adequate institutional settings for the regional policy.The second section will discuss the problems which have to be solved, will one put the regional policy in a macro-regional - or intercantonal regional - settings into operation. In the final section we will evaluate the macro-regions proposal from the point of view of the debate on competitive federalism trying to answer the question whether the macro-regions represent only a possible institutional setting for the regional policy of the federal government, or whether they could become an institution which could substitute in the post-industrial era, in which Switzerland metropolizes, the historical institutional settings of the cantons, which, in many cases, is seen as the heritage of the pre-industrial, agrarian, Switzerland.