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Regional politics of an urban age: can Europe’s former industrial cities create a new industrial economy to combat climate change and social unravelling?

Power, Anne (2018) Regional politics of an urban age: can Europe’s former industrial cities create a new industrial economy to combat climate change and social unravelling? Palgrave Communications, 4 (97). ISSN 2055-1045

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Identification Number: 10.1057/s41599-018-0120-x


Across Europe, cities are struggling to cope with the loss of industrial jobs; decay of urban infrastructure; in-migration (most often from poorer regions); outward sprawl pressures; traffic congestion and transport bottlenecks. The environmental consequences of continuing urban development are deeply threatening to the survival of both city and countryside. Growing anti-immigrant sentiments, sluggish growth and intense inequality provoke a level of disaffection and marginalisation that threaten social cohesion, with highly divisive consequences. This article, based on a ten year study of seven European cities, argues that recovery is under way in ex-industrial cities with major reinvestment from national and European funds. Transformative deals and innovations have created new jobs and led to population regrowth after years of decline. There are hopeful signs that in different parts of Europe–North, South, East and West–a new phase of growth in core cities is emerging, based on university-civic business partnerships; reuse and remodelling of existing, devalued infrastructure; reinvestment and expansion of rail and water networks; the growth in advanced manufacturing; reduced energy use and the spread of renewable energy; innovative research and technology; city centre and neighbourhood restoration and integration. Europe’s former industrial cities are part of much bigger metropolitan areas or city regions and some benefits are spreading out from core cities to more peripheral areas, although this is often swamped by poverty and unemployment, skills mismatch and inadequate reinvestment. A complex patchwork of changes is driven by a new kind of city leadership; growing collaboration between the core and periphery of cities; central government and Europe-wide concern both to devolve more powers and reduce dependence on central funds; regional devolution and metropolitan level programmes–particularly in areas of skills, research and development, infrastructure, and umbrella services backed with cash and political enthusiasm. Cities are recovering across the world’s most urban continent by combining reuse and new inventions, which deliver more sustainable economies.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 the Author
Divisions: Social Policy
LSE Housing & Communities
Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2018 09:39
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 00:42

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