By Katja Mirwaldt, Irene McMaster and John Bachtler, 2011


‘Macro-region’ is an established term in economic and political geography and spatial planning. As such, it is widely applied in a range of contexts. However, following the adoption of the macro-regional Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the identification of other potential macro-regions in the Danube, Alpine, Black Sea and Mediterranean areas, the concept of macro-regions has gained increased prominence in contemporary policy practice and debates.

By Stefanie Dühr, 2014


This report was prepared within the context of the INTERREG IVB Central Europe project ‘City Regions’. It takes as starting point the emerging map of EU-macro-regional strategies that have over the past years been prepared for the Baltic Sea Region, the Danube Region, the Adriatic-Ioanian region, and (under development) for the Alpine Region. EU macro-regional strategies are organised around a transnational rationale of shared ecosystems (river basin, regional sea, mountain range), and are implemented through a comprehensive action plan of jointly identified and implemented projects and by making use of existing EU and national funds. EU macro-regional strategies are on request of the European Council prepared by the European Commission jointly with actors in the region. They are aimed at achieving better coordination of actors, policies and resources, but without being allocated additional funding, new legislation or new institutions. For the new EU Cohesion Policy period 2014-2020, however, transnational territorial cooperation programmes (‘INTERREG VB’) have been aligned with the EU macro-regions to facilitate the coordination of funding.

By Gábor Braun and Zoltán László Kovács, 2011


The EU’s economic policy is based on political experiment and innovation. We are placing the macro-regional strategies
into this learning procedure and positioning them compared to the economic policy toolkit of the EU. After analysing and comparing these new concepts (Baltic Sea, Danube and other potential macro-regional strategies) we classify the EU’s economic policy in terms of implementation and coordination. Accordingly, macro-regional strategies are cooperative, have soft coordination and their territorial-functional focuses reflect increasing differentiation and integration. In our view, potentially feasible, more tightened fiscal and sectoral coordination through macro-regions can give a new impulse to the cooperation on EU level and improve EU’s competitiveness. Still, limited EU resources, insufficiently deep integration and softer coordination can all enhance the fragmentation further and can notably limit the room for manoeuvring of the EU in tackling external, internal challenges.

By Bialasiewicz, L., Giaccaria, P., Jones, A., & Minca, C., 2013


This article engages with the most recent spatial fantasy for the making of ‘EU’ropean space: the idea of trans-European
macro-regions, currently in vogue in the policy literature. In particular, we focus on the imaginings of a Mediterranean
macro-region as the latest incarnation of the macro-regional fad, but also as a useful prism for reflecting on some of
the underlying conceptual as well as political and geopolitical challenges of the on-going remaking and rescaling of
‘EU’ropean space. We argue that, although there exists by now a vast literature by geographers and other scholars
that engages with the production of ‘EU’ropean spaces through regionalization, the policy literature generated by
EU ‘macro-regional experts’ appears to entirely ignore these debates, professing an understanding of regions that is
a conceptual pastiche at best, and that entirely occludes the political and geopolitical implications of region-making
within, at, and beyond ‘EU’rope’s borders