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Will the european union 2020 strategy bring new opportunities for place branding projects


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My new blog post about the - European Union 2020 Strategy & Place Branding - is out now via PlacesBrands.

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Will the european union 2020 strategy bring new opportunities for place branding projects

  1. 1. Will the European Union 2020 Strategy Bring New Opportunitiesfor Place Branding Projects?By Eduardo OliveiraSetting the contextSome time ago I wrote my own thoughts about the European Union 2020 Strategy and its implications forthe practice of place branding. This is my follow up of the ideas I shared. There are variousinterconnected reasons that motivated me to keep exploring the European Union (EU) policy and placebranding, which I will now explore here.Firstly, the European Union opened the formal talks on the European Union budget for the coming sevenyears (2014-2020) on a meeting on Monday evening (May 6) between the European CommissionPresident José Manuel Barroso, the European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Taoiseach EndaKenny for the Irish Presidency of the Council. The proposal for the next multiannual financial framework isa step forward to operationalise or to deliver a budget for the Europe 2020 strategy (EU 2020). Thecohesion policy and territorial cooperation remain key vectors of the coming financial package for theEuropean Member States and their regions.Secondly, it is fundamentally important to underline that place branding is a highly political process,where the Place Branding Organizations (PBO), if any, aim to coordinate their actions to achieve not onlyeconomic objectives but also political and social goals. So, when designing a place branding strategy,PBO’s should examine what is going on in terms of economic and social dimensions to gain a deeperunderstanding of current policies at national and supra national level, such as EU level.Place branding can provide a useful basis for strategic thinking in place development in economic, social,cultural or any other terms. But place branding needs a budget to become truly effective. In contemporarysociety, with the lack of resources, including financial means, it is necessary to develop the beststrategies to find solutions for current challenges, such as unemployment, and economic imbalances.Place branding could play a determinant role. This role will be enhanced if also supported by commonparticipation, joint programmes and the integration in suitable European development programmes incooperation with other places/EU regions. A place brand can be developed through cooperation, sharedvision and entrepreneurship networks.From my point of view, the EU Commission proposals for the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020seems to give a strong step for territorial cooperation and cross-border entrepreneurship. Finally, mydesire as a place branding researcher is not only to contribute to the literature on the topic but to createopen discussions around the practice of place branding, which I see as essential for effective theoreticaldevelopment.
  2. 2. Delivering the European Union 2020 strategyThe Europe 2020 strategy defines priorities designed to help the EU and Member States to deliver highlevels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The strategy consists of five ambitious keysectors: employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy. The goals are to bereached by 2020. Territorial cohesion is a core subject of the 2020 strategy agenda, therefore the 2014-2020 EU budget proposal is part of the cohesion policy package for that period.The European Union cohesion policy is the main investment instrument to support the EU prioritiesunderpinned by the Europe 2020 strategy, by focusing on the countries and regions where needs aregreater. The European Territorial Cooperation is one of the goals of the cohesion policy and provides aframework for implementation of joint actions and policy exchanges between national, regional and localactors from different Member States. The EU argument is that to address the current cross-boundarychallenges, joint co-operative action is required at the appropriate territorial level.Place branding can be, and has successfully been used as at least part of policies aimed at furtheringfundamental economic restructuring, attempting to increase social inclusion and cohesion, politicalengagement and participation, to reinforce place identity and the well-being of citizens. That means awindow of opportunity for place branding projects may gain new momentum under the EU MultiannualFinancial Framework 2014-2020.But I wonder, is there institutional background for developing joint place branding strategies? Can wedesign transboundary place branding programmes?European Territorial Cooperation and place branding in practiceThe European Territorial Cooperation aims to better operationalise the cohesion policy of the EU and toreinforce the cooperation between regions of the European Union (NUTS 3). The proposalfor regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on specific provisions to the EuropeanTerritorial Cooperation goal states that transboundary problems can most effectively be solved withcooperation and transnational actions by providing an effective mechanism for sharing good practice,enhancing competitiveness and to support growth and employment.
  3. 3. For me, the discourse is unquestionable, but I still have some doubts after analysing the document.Which strategies to implement? Can place branding strategy be effective in this way?In place branding research, words such as cohesion and cooperation are part of the lexicon and work asobjectives of a place branding strategy, in parallel with the desire of economic prosperity. This aims toimprove quality of life for citizens and to enhance the overall attractiveness of the place, advancingtourism and industry as a result.In this respect, the new EU financial framework 2014-2020 encourages cooperation between regions, inaddition to special cross-border cooperation, and opens up opportunities for projects, perhaps under thelabels of tourism and regional development.It may seem a difficult task to develop common place branding strategies, but they could be articulatedbetween EU regions, with common objectives and therefore receiving a higher budget through EUfunding, saving resources by sharing the existing ones.It seems that likely and desired transboundary initiatives and perhaps a unique place branding strategyfor two different regions in two different Member States, it should be possible to establish networks ofcooperation which are able to enhance the image and therefore the attractiveness of those two regionsand therefore of the two Member States. Several regional entities face a lack of financial support for theirprojects.A new EU financial package could bridge that gap, however the EU is clear that partnership betweenregions and countries would receive greater support, and it is precisely at this point that I highlight thenecessity for cross-border strategic thinking in place branding processes.