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European Commission - Press release

How competitive is your region? Commission publishes the 2016 Regional Competitiveness Index

Brussels, 27 February 2017

Today the Commission has published the third edition of the Regional Competitiveness Index for 263 EU regions, a study that provides useful insights for regions to boost their economic performance.

Regional competitiveness is the ability of a region to offer an attractive and sustainable environment for firms and residents to live and work.

The novelty of the 2016 edition is the interactive web tool, which allows for a more detailed analysis and comparison of each region, either with its peers in terms of GDP per capita or with all EU regions. Users may now see more easily how their region scores in terms of innovation, governance, transport, digital infrastructure, health or human capital. The tool is also designed to help regions identify their strengths, their weaknesses and investment priorities when shaping their development strategies.

Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “This index is a precious tool for better policy-making. It reinforces the Commission's efforts to support structural reforms and boost the innovation capacities of EU regions via Cohesion Policy investments. Because each region is unique, we provide tailor-made support to empower them and help them capitalise on their strengths and assets, especially with our regional smart specialisation strategies.”

Overall, the 2016 results are in line with those for 2013. Once again, a polycentric pattern can be observed with strong capital and metropolitan areas as the main drivers of competitiveness. Spill over effects can be seen in most of north-western Europe, but this is much less obvious in the EU regions to the east and south. High levels of within-country variation are observed in many cases which are caused by a clearly outperforming capital region compared to the other regions in the country.

Compared to the two previous editions, published in 2010 and 2013, Malta and several regions in France, Germany, Sweden, Portugal and the UK improved their score, while the scores declined in Cyprus and regions in Greece, Ireland and, more recently in the Netherlands. In eastern EU regions, competitiveness has mostly remained stable.


Launched in 2010 and published every three years, the Regional Competitiveness Index (RCI) allows regions to monitor and assess their development over time and in comparison with other regions. It is the first measure to provide a European perspective on the competitiveness of regions in the EU. It builds on the approach of the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum (GCI-WEF).

The RCI is based on the statistical, NUTS 2 (Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics) regions, with NUTS 2 regions that are part of the same functional urban area combined. This ensures that the RCI fully captures the skills available in the local labour market.

The RCI is composed of 11 pillars that describe the different aspects of competitiveness. Through these pillars, the index assesses the strengths and weaknesses of a region.

They are classified into three groups: Basic, Efficiency and Innovation. The Basic group includes five pillars: (1) Institutions; (2) Macroeconomic Stability; (3) Infrastructures; (4) Health; and (5) Basic Education. These represent the key basic drivers of all types of economies.

As a regional economy develops and advances in its competitiveness, factors related to a more skilled labour force and a more efficient labour market come into play as part of the Efficiency group. This includes three pillars: (6) Higher Education, Training and Lifelong Learning; (7) Labour Market Efficiency; and (8) Market Size. At the most advanced stage of a regional economy's development, drivers of improvement are part of the Innovation group, which consists of three pillars: (9) Technological Readiness; (10) Business Sophistication; and (11) Innovation.

More information

Twitter: @EU_Regional @CorinaCretuEU









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