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OECD Territorial Reviews: Portugal 2008

image of OECD Territorial Reviews: Portugal 2008

In order to curb rising unemployment and to upgrade low value-added activities, the competitive edge lost in low-cost labour must be earned back through education and innovation. Regional policy stands as a key tool to achieve this shift in a relatively small yet diverse country with moderate economic growth and limited public spending capacity. This report analyses how a paradigm shift in regional policy, building on the knowledge of both public and private stakeholders in specific regions (ranging from dynamic urban areas on the coast to lagging inland areas), could help Portugal fully exploit its potential for sustainable development.

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Assessment and Recommendations

Portugal offers a compelling case study for what is often referred to among OECD countries as the paradigm shift in regional policy (in brief, a shift from subsidies targeting the reduction of regional disparities to investment supporting regional opportunities in order to enhance territorial competitiveness; from different sectoral approaches to multi-sectoral place-based approaches; from a dominant role of certain levels of government to a multi-level governance approach involving co-ordination of national, regional and local governments plus other stakeholders). The example of Portugal draws attention to why and how this new type of regional policy could contribute to national development in a relatively small yet diverse country, with weak growth and limited public spending capacity, and marked by a long tradition of centralised governance and no elected regional level (except in two island regions).

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