REVITALIZATION OF INDUSTRIAL AREAS FROM THE EU'S STRUCTURAL FUNDS. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RECHAR II PROGRAM IN THE LIMBURG REGION (1994-1999)
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The genesis of traditional industrial regions is inextricably intertwined with the industrial revolution. The need to reduce transport costs spurred concentration of heavy industry, which was seen as an engine of economic growth. Yet in the second half of the 20th century, dramatic structural changes - due, among other things, to technological progress - diminished the significance of coal mining and heavy industry. As a result, the situation in traditional industrial districts worsened. Plagued with numerous problems, they began to be regarded as declining and unattractive, which in turn led to a fall in their competitiveness. Hence, within the framework of EU regional policy, programmes were devised with a view to supporting re-conversion and revitalisation efforts as well as to preventing regional disparities from growing. One of such programmes was RECHAR II addressed to regions affected by the decline of coal mining. The present article shows - with the help of analysis of the implementation of RECHAR II projects in the Limburg province - how to use revitalisation initiatives as a vehicle for enhancing regional competitiveness. That is why special emphasis is laid on the question of competitiveness and its determinants which - as the article argues - at the time of progressing globalisation, seems to be the key to attracting much-needed foreign direct investment and thereby raising living standards.
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