50th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Sustainable Regional Growth and Development in the Creative Knowledge Economy", 19-23 August 2010, Jönköping, Sweden
Nowadays, globalization, technological innovation, migration and population ageing, make it increasingly difficult to predict the future of regions. Identifying the key problems that regions face and considering how these findings could be effectively used as a basis for planning region's improvement, are essential in order to improve the conditions in the European Union regions. Measuring the development of a region means going beyond a purely economic description of human activities and integrate economic, social and environmental concerns. Working in this context, we have so far defined a variable which is called the Image of a region and expresses its power to attract both economic activities and the right blend of people to run them. The regions' Image is a function of a multitude of factors physical, economic, social and environmental, some common for all potential movers and some specific for particular groups of them. In some earlier works in this area, we have classified the 27 EU countries according to their economic, social and environmental characteristics in 3, 2 and 3 clusters respectively. By estimating the Image of every cluster member we have defined the country which could be characterized as the leader of the cluster and serve as a benchmark for the others. As the "region" is in the center of interest of the seventh European Framework Program (FP7), in this study we are going one step further and we focus on the regions of the 27 EU countries. More specifically, our objective is to estimate the Basic Image values for selected EU regions and then group them into clusters on the basis of the same characteristics used in country level, namely their Economic and Social Indicators. Preliminary results show that the regions of a given country may be allocated to different clusters. The final results will be presented and critically discussed.