chapter  8
16 Pages

Inequalities in the Central and Eastern European research area: Challenges of regional decentralisation


One reason for Europe’s diminishing role in the world economy is the fact that the development of research capacity and of the human factor lags behind that of their US counterparts. A programme aiming to correct these deficiencies was draw up in the European Union’s (EU) Lisbon Strategy. Europe’s further development depends on the way in which growth factors

are spread across its regions, and one reason for the lower level of competitiveness is major regional differences in research and development (R&D). Weak regional cohesion and an exaggerated spatial concentration of modern regional development factors have a clearly negative effect on European competitiveness today. Activities with high value added are concentrated within the London-Paris-Milan-Berlin-Amsterdam pentagon, but the distribution of innovative industries differs even in the developed countries. The role of national core areas is vital to R&D capacity, high-technology industries and to advanced services – but, again, the situation is very similar in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, where the level of concentration, in fact, increased after the change of regime in 1989/90. The aim of this paper is to identify regional differences in the R&D struc-

ture of six large and medium-sized EU Member States in CEE (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia). The basic hypothesis is that exaggerated intellectual polarisation hampers the strengthening of regional cohesion and that R&D must be given a priority role in economic development strategies. This notion has not yet been realised in the operative programmes of National Development Plans. The strengthening of R&D featured prominently in the Lisbon criteria, but only a few words were devoted to the regional dissemination of intellectual potential, R&D capacity and knowledge-intensive fields of activity. Conditions suitable for innovative development are simply not yet available in most European regions.