Regional policies were the second largest part of the EU budget in the period of 2007-2013 and they will maintain a large budget share in the new multiannual financial framework as well. The contribution of these policies towards European economic, social and territorial cohesion has been constantly monitored and critically analysed in recent years.
On the contrary, our knowledge is much less significant on the contribution of this vast European policy to a positive identification with the European project as such or to the emergence of a valued, popular sense of European identity among the beneficiary population.
Europe’s regions are very diverse in terms of institutional history, distinct cultural (or even linguistic, ethnic or national) identities as well as administrative and governance functions. In some regions, indigenous peoples’ issues and demands are affected and challenged by European policies. In the context of a perceived democratic deficit of the EU and bearing in mind the importance of local practices and mental representations in the construction of identities, it is highly important to analyse the triangular relationship between European regions, the European framework for the application of cohesion, regional and urban policies (including the notion of smart specialisation and the role of creativity in modern development policies) and the impact of European regional policies on a positive identification with the European construction.