News, Events and Research Output from ITN RegPol²
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Welcome to the sixth newsletter of the ITN RegPol² project!

“ITN RegPol² – Socio-economic and political responses to regional polarisation in Central and Eastern Europe”

Summer is over and we hope that everybody got enough rest and relaxation to come back fully to the RegPol² project and its activities. After a rather longer period of time without a joint meeting in the project, the Slovak University of Technology (STU) has organized the 3rd RegPol² school from 19 to 23 September 2016 in the Tatragolf Mountain Resort in Veľká Lomnica (Slovakia). Nevertheless, the research activities of our fellows continued in between the period, including the field research and presentations of their work. The sixth project newsletter summarizes the efforts of the fellows and their future activities.
Network-wide Events

19-23 September 2016 | 3rd RegPol² school, “Beyond disparities: Strategies towards a balanced spatial development” | Veľká Lomnica, SK

The 3rd RegPol² school: “Beyond disparities: strategies towards a balanced spatial development”, organized by RegPol² / Slovak University of Technology (STU), was held between 19–23.09.2016 in Tatragolf Mountain Resort, Veľká Lomnica, Slovakia.

The event has provided a mixture of activities - lectures, discussions, seminars and colloquia or meetings with local practitioners and politicians, including visits of the local community institutions and initiatives. We had two renowned keynote speakers: Lummina Horlings, Associate Professor at the University of Groningen and Martin Müller from the University of Zurich. Lummina Horlings, who is coordinating the ITN SUSPLACE, emphasized the important role leaders can play in place-based development. She argues that leadership is a relational concept and, in most cases, a collaborative process which builds on vital coalitions across organisations, themes and sectors. Martin Müller shared with us his thoughts about the city multiple and the Global East. While many scholars are talking about the Global North and the Global South, it seems that the post-Soviet countries do not have any place in this dichotomy anymore. Thus, Martin Müller proposed to introduce the concept of a Global East as a region which has faced multiple transformations and is still struggling with globalization. He combines this concept with the concept of the city multiple, which he defines as “paradoxical unity in multiplicity”. Not only cities in the Global East are characterized by these multiplicities, but here it may seem to be more apparent than elsewhere.

An integral part of the event was a public conference with local and national politicians, who gave a comprehensive overview on the problems of the region around Kezmarok and the solutions they proposed. In all Slovakian regions, so-called Local Action Plans were created which are the basis for their further development. Antonín Marcincin, plenipotentiary of the least developed regions of the Slovak government, Ábel Ravasz, plenipotentiary for the Roma of the Slovak government and Ján Ferencak, mayor of Kezmarok, explained the processes in the creation and implemention of these LAPs and the role which the marginalized Roma population plays in this region. Our fellows engaged very critically in this discussion, raising questions over the use of potentially stigmatizing discourses and approaches toward such marginalized communities. The conference even raised the interest of the Slovak television and newspapers. You can find the links to the Slovak contributions below.

An excursion through the region brought us to two schools with mainly Roma pupils, a social enterprise run by a former priest, the Spa Cervený Klastor and a small farm, thus completing these days full of practical information. Based on the feedback obtained by the fellows, the event was a success in overall. The fellows appreciated the variety of the agenda, keynote speeches and the time devoted to the methodology trainings. Some of the fellows took advantage of the beautiful region of High Tatras and explored some of its hiking routes over the weekend as well.

Here you can find detailed summaries of the event by Lummina Horlings and Rivo Noorkõiv. Media coverage of the event is provided here.

Thanks to all for your efforts and attendance.

Martin, Martiene, Bradley and Melinda in the High Tatras of Slovakia.
News & Activities of our Fellows

National Workshop: Estonia

Title: Core-Periphery Relations between Discourses and Practices: Estonia and Beyond
Date: 3-4.11.2016
Aim: Discussion of results, feedback
Format: Joint panel/workshop during the Tartu Planners’ Conference
Target groups: Geographers, spatial planners, journalists, policy planners, informants, etc.

The National RegPol² Workshop in Estonia is directly linked with the RegPol112 phases 3 & 4 in Estonia (see below). It involves not only fellows (ERS) residing in Estonia but also those who carried out their secondments in Estonia. The special session arranged by RegPol² fellows took place within the Estonian Planners Annual Conference in Tartu, 3-4 November 2016. Panels included "Innovation Policies and Practices in Central-Eastern Europe" (Martin Graffenberger, Bradley Loewen, Sebastian Schulz) and "Public Leaders Shaping Peripheralization Discourses and Practices?" (Martiene Grootens, Grete Kindel, Bianka Plüschke-Altof).

The Tartu Planners Conference involves over 200 regional and spatial planning professionals. This year's conference title was "Spatial disparities and planning" (Ruumiline ebavõrdus ja planeerimine), whereby several sessions were dedicated to peripheralisation and shrinking issues. Keynotes were delivered by Professor Marju Lauristin, the Member of European Parliament, and by Mr Arto Aas, the Minister of Public Administration of the Estonian Government. Panels  | more

RegPol 112 Initiative

The above National Workshop in Estonia ties into an initiative that our Estonian colleagues have launched, called RegPol112, that is supported by the group of county governors and other civil servants as well as some private entrepreneurs as financial donors. This Estonian national project has been in some extent powered by RegPol², supporting the national project with knowledge and people active on both sides.

RegPol112 main aims are twofold:
  1. Designing new regional economic policy tools that would be more appropriate and effective for the geographical and economic peripheries, and;
  2. Rising awareness of possible threats but also opportunities related with the peripheralisation and shrinking processes among policy makers and wider public.
RegPol112 has five phases:
  1. Information gathering (about policy initiatives and reasoning in various European countries) and analytical stage, Spring 2016;
  2. Group interviews with experts and involvement policy makers, compiling the mid-term report, Summer 2016;
  3. Elaborating and testing new draft action measures among entrepreneurs, legal experts and civil servants, Autumn 2016;
  4. Discussing the theme among wider professional circles and general public, developing concrete action measures, late autumn 2016, delivering the final report, January 2017;
  5. Discussing theme as Nationally Important Issue at the Estonian Parliament, February 2017. The Rural Development Commission of the Estonian Parliament agreed to act as the leading commission. There is a slight chance to include some new regional policy measures in the 2018 budget.
Conferences & Events

Our fellows have been present during the last months at the following events:

15-18 August 2016 | 5th Summer School: “Social enterprises on rural peripheries” | Irota, HU

31 August - 3 September 2016 | The 5th International Degrowth Conference | Budapest, HU | more

23-26 August 2016 | 56th ERSA Congress: Cities & Regions: Smart, Sustainable, Inclusive? | Vienna, AT | more

14-16 September 2016 | 10th European Urban & Regional Studies Conference: Europe, Crisis and Uneven Development | Crete, GR | more

5-7 October 2016 | G-Forum Annual Conference: 20th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation | Leipzig, DE | more

9-13 October 2016 | EWRC Master Class on EU Cohesion Policy | Brussels, BE | more

20-21 October 2016 | RSA Event: Leadership in urban and regional development | Aix-en-Provence, FR

27-28 October 2016 | RSA Student and Early Career Conference 2016 | Newcastle, UK | more

3-4 November 2016 | Tartu Planeerimiskonverents | Tartu, EE | more

15 November 2016 | Small workshop on social innovation in rural regions | Erkner, DE

24-25 November 2016 | RSA Winter Conference | London, UK | more
Upcoming Events

RegPol² will be present at the following events:

January 2017 | Current Trends in Public Sector Research | Brno, CZ

9-10 March 2017 | 6th NoRSA Conference: Regions in Transition | Karlstad, SE | more

16-21 June 2017 | Nordic Geographers Meeting: Peripherality and Remoteness | Stockholm, SE | Note: abstracts should be send to | more

10-13 September 2017 | RSA CEE Conference: Regional Polarisation and Unequal Development in CEE: Challenges for Innovative Place-based Policies | Cluj-Napoca, RO | more

27-29 September 2017 | Coping with Uneven Development: Socio-economic and Political Responses to Regional Polarisation | Leipzig, DE | Note: Proposals welcome until 8 January 2017 | more

Plüschke-Altof, B. (2016). Rescaling Postcolonial Approaches: The Making of Rural Peripheries in Estonian Media Discourse. Re-inventing Eastern Europe (The Fifth Edition), Riga, 29-30.01.2016. Riga: Euroacademia, 1−10.

Grootens, M., L. Horlings (2016). Leading (in) peripheries, Regions Magazine Special Issue 302(1): 21-22.
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About ITN RegPol²

The ITN RegPol² – Socio-economic and Political Responses to Regional Polarisation in Central and Eastern Europe – centres on new patterns of regional disparities between metropolised regions and the remaining parts of Central ad Eastern European countries (CEE) countries.

Research training for 13 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and 3 Experienced Researchers (ERs) is divided into 3 work packages of strongly interrelated research projects. The network draws on expertise from academia and private sector specialists from 7 different countries and 8 scientific disciplines used to working in interdisciplinary and multinational contexts.

The project aims at improving regional policy instruments by raising capacities of politicians, public and private sector policy makers related to issues of regional polarisation.

Visit for more information.
Full Partners
Fellow In Profile

Martiene Grootens

We asked Martiene to share her secondment experiences with us, below.

Since September 2016, I have started my secondment in VNG international in The Hague, the Netherlands. Being located in The Hague, in the heart of most national institutions in the Netherlands (ministries, knowledge institutions etc.), this secondment has provided me with the opportunity to easily get into contact with national experts dealing with the development of the non-metropolitan regions. At the moment this helps me make an informed case study selection for my Dutch case study and start my Dutch field work soon.

Furthermore this secondment can in the coming months help me to get out of university. VNG international which acts as the international cooperation agency of the Dutch Association of Municipalities supports decentralisation processes and facilitate decentralised cooperation internationally. Focusing on these tasks, VNG international also enables me to learn and closely witness in which ways a private sector agency is dealing with knowledge that up until now I have mostly approached in a theoretical way.

Overall, being half way in my secondment period, I am enjoying the opportunities that this secondment provides me professionally and besides this also reconnects me to the refined Dutch cuisine of bitterballen, cheese and stroopwafels.


RegPol² has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ under REA grant agreement n° 607022.

Copyright © 2016 ITN RegPol2, All rights reserved.

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