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46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
ERSA Congress can be seen as laboratory of ideas with broad representation not only European, but also scientists from US, Japan, Korea, Brazil, African and Asian countries. With very high speed new thoughts and phenomena from the European regional scientific community appear on the stages of the ERSA annual Congresses. Three new features were characteristic for the 2005 ERSA Congress in comparison with the previous ones. First, special focus on the factors of density in the regional development. That was not surprising as the meeting was held in the city of Amsterdam with the highest density in Europe where land and space are scarce goods. Second, integrative tendencies in attempt to use natural factors to explain traditional phenomena of the regional science. Issues of land and water management coincide with economic growth and regional development in many reports. Third, for the first time theme of networks and network society was embedded in many sections of the Congress and in the very title of the Congress itself. All these aspects as participants demonstrated could be positive creative factors increasing cultural assets of the European regions, efficiency of the knowledge transfer, leisure activities; or negative as the source of disaster and risk for human beings. Density factors (lack of people or lack of space?) divide European regional science into two sciences – urban for the populated regions and regional for the territories scarcely populated with very different themes, methods and tools of research. Housing markets, urban sprawl and commuting patterns are popular topics in the first case; labour markets and human capital in the second case. New Economic Geography models work smoothly in the first regions but are inappropriate in the second. Competition is harder in the labour markets of the populated regions but is softer in the regions with scattered population where it is substituted by the forces of cooperation. Contemporary regional society can be sustainable only as network society. In the reports networks were examined on different levels: a) as transportation networks in the investment national or interregional projects; b) as policentricity urban structures replacing Cristaller's hierarchy of central places; c) as public-public, public-private partnerships combining public and private stakeholders in the decision-making process. Transition of the European regions from the industrial to network/service has begun 25 years ago. Position of the concrete region on this route determines clearly the type and intensity of its problem and research agenda. The more advanced is the region or nation on this route the more often terms like "reinvent", "rethink", "revisited" are used in the scientific community. Rediscovery of the old concepts, definitions, essence (as Amsterdam Congress demonstrated) is very creative and challenging process of the post-industrial regional science.
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