Regional and territorial development policy after the 2016 EU referendum – Initial reflections and some tentative scenarios

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European regional policy evolved partly as a response to the distinctive needs of the UK following its accession to the then European Economic Community in the 1970s and remains a key and well-regarded ‘British contribution’ to the present-day European Union. Inspired by this rarely acknowledged reality and the aftermath of the UK’s European Union referendum in 2016, this paper first reflects on the position of regional policy within the wider ‘European Project’. It then outlines the material, symbolic and political impacts that European regional policy has had on Britain and its deprived regions and communities over the past four decades. The outcome of the UK’s 2016 European Union referendum is then reviewed from a territorial perspective, and some of the key spatial and placed-based contradictions which it embodies are unpacked. A reflection on the prospects for place-based policy in a post-European Union Britain then follows emphasising that the new context invites a reappraisal of the purposes and forms of regional development policy. Five tentative scenarios of the UK’s future relationship with European Union territorial development policy are then presented. The conclusion recalls the crucial role that European Union regional policy has played in UK regions and communities and calls for close attention to be paid over the coming years to the distributional territorial impacts of leaving the European Union.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-256
JournalLocal Economy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2017