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RELOCAL Report Summary

Project ID: 727097

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RELOCAL (Resituating the local in cohesion and territorial development)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2017-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The aim of RELOCAL project is to recognize different factors that condition local accessibility of European policies, local abilities to articulate needs and equality claims and local capacities for exploiting European opportunity structures. RELOCAL departs from the basic premise that localities and their functional spaces represent the contextual nexus where the relationship between individuals and spatial justice unfolds.
Generally, RELOCAL project addresses the problem that social mobility and economic activity is constrained by many spatial and institutional factors, especially for individuals who live in precarious conditions. The ‘local’ plays an important role in the promotion of fairness, spatial justice and well-being in Europe and, in turn, functions as an important laboratory for the elaboration of European, national and sub-national policies addressing cohesion and spatial justice.
RELOCAL project will examine the capacity of place-based approaches to deliver spatial justice. Localities are defined as multifarious and porous, at the intersection of vertical, horizontal and transversal forces. Spatial justice is conceptualised as integrating social, spatial, temporal, distributive and procedural dimensions. The main ambition behind RELOCAL is an evidence-based advocacy of localist approaches to cohesion and other spatial development policies where the EU plays a key role. New conceptual frameworks as well as policy models and instruments are needed in order to promote the development of Cohesion and other EU policies into more locally sensitive opportunity structures, in terms of both participation and the more effective inclusion of local concerns and social needs.
RELOCAL will result in a number of policy recommendations that will help to make EU Cohesion Policy and its deployment in regional contexts more efficient and relevant to civil society and the citizenry. First, RELOCAL will contribute to an understanding of the ways in which European regions are very different and diverse in terms of their socio-economic, institutional and cultural environments. Second, RELOCAL will provide knowledge and scientifically sound insights into good practices in communicative strategies and participatory practices with regard to the deployment of cohesion polices in diverse European regions.
The main objectives of RELOCAL are defined as follows: 1) contribute to new conceptual frameworks of territorial cohesion, 2) develop working and practicable definitions of spatial justice based on the local quality and availability of social opportunities, 3) provide critical evaluations of the substantive adequacy, local accessibility and development impacts of existing cohesion policies, 4) elaborate new policy and development models that bridge conflicts and trade-offs between regional development and governance models that address territorial cohesion and spatial justice across Europe, and 5) develop a new, empirically tested, theoretical framework for the relation between regional autonomy, decentralisation, local participation on the one hand and greater economic, political and social justice on the other.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

WP1 (Conceptual framework) has drawn up the Conceptual paper relying on inputs from all partners, as well as on discussions online in the RELOCAL ‘reserved area’ and at the project workshops. The Conceptual framework provides the RELOCAL definitions of the ‘locality’ and ‘spatial justice’ and provides the starting analytical framework for the understanding of the relationships between these two major concepts the project works with.
WP2 (Mapping patterns of inequality and change) has reviewed the existing data sources to provide an overview of patterns and changes in spatial inequalities at the level of EU regions. WP2 also provided data to ILS in June 2017 as input to the selection of case studies.
WP3 (Territorial governance structures and practices) has provided important input into the case study selection and Case Study Manual produced as part of WP6, which will operationalise many of WP3’s research questions for the fieldwork. WP3 produced D 3.1 ‘Conceptual framework to identify Governance practices in relation to spatial justice in case study research in September 2017.
WP4 (The Local, Spatial Justice and Cohesion Policy) has reviewed literature and policy documents in relation to greater promotion of place-based and locally oriented emphasis within European Cohesion Policy. WP4 has also provided essential input into the case study selection and Case Study Manual produced as part of WP6.
WP5 (Longitudinal studies of territorial inequality) has prepared a survey of data availability across all participating countries in RELOCAL project. Deliverable 5.1 “Availability of longitudinal microdata and scales of inequalities in EU countries” identified possibilities to measure spatial inequalities over time using microdata (i.e. individuals, households) in participating countries. WP also initiated a preliminary analysis for multi-scalar patterns of spatial inequality in Sweden and the Netherlands.
WP6 (Case Studies) has facilitated the structured discussion among WP3, 4, 6 and 7 of ideas, approaches and methods for case study selection and implementation. A method for the selection of representative case studies (nine pilot case studies and 33 full case studies) was developed and partners were guided to initially propose case studies. WP has also prepared the Case Study Manual, which represents the main methodological framework for case study implementation.
WP7 (Autonomy and spatial justice) started in September 2017, but it has actively participated in the case study selection process and the development of the Case study Manual.
WP8 (Coherence and Scenarios) has not started yet but it has actively participated in the project activities.
WP9 (Policy Considerations) has taken initial consultations with partners and particularly the WP leader for WP6 in relation to development of Stakeholder Inclusion Guidelines.
WP10 (Dissemination) has set up the project website and generated a Dissemination Plan. Two Project Newsletters and a project brochure as well as a YouTube channel have been produced. The first Working Paper Series has also been developed.
WP11 (Project Management) has drawn up the Consortium Agreement in the beginning of the project for the internal management of the consortium. A scientific advisory board has been set up and a policy advisory board is under preparation.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The global objective of the RELOCAL project is to suggest viable solutions for a more cohesive European territory. This is planned to be achieved by contribution to scientific debate and engaging relevant policy makers and practitioners on multiple levels. The content and the objectives (operationalised through the individual work packages) have not changed so have not the expected impact.
Expected results during the forthcoming phase of RELOCAL project will heavily rely on bottom-up perspective local development situations. RELLOCAL will be based primarily but not exclusively on case studies of local contexts as they are embedded in broader territorial and governance structures that exemplify development challenges in terms of spatial justice. Most case studies will elaborate on causes and consequences of spatial injustice in disadvantaged and relatively marginalised areas and as a result of uneven development.

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