Territorial impact and responses to COVID-19 in Lagging Regions

Publication article | | Jayne Woolford

The impact of COVID-19 has been asymmetrical, and the crisis has exposed the inequality and vulnerability of certain groups and territories. Places that were more connected had earlier cases but have tended to show greater resilience whereas weaker regions, smaller firms and disadvantaged workers have been disproportionally affected, with the negative consequences further compounding long term challenges. Lagging regions were, and continue to be, potentially particularly vulnerable to the effects of the crisis, and this paper explores the key issues and responses of a number of lagging region territories in the EU during and immediately after the first wave hit the continent in Spring 2020.


This report has been prepared as part of the Lagging Regions project of the JRC, which aimed to support the implementation of Smart Specialisation Strategies in selected low-growth and less developed regions in EU Member States. In April 2020 following the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, a series of questions was sent to Lagging Regions partner territories in order to determine their policy responses, specifically in the context of initial European Commission initiatives such as the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) under Cohesion Policy. This paper collects and builds on the responses received in order to give an indication of the potential consequences of the global public health crisis on some of the least developed regions of the European Union.

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