It is crucial not to overlook the importance of external support has a foundation of economic resilience. Smaller economies are most likely to benefit from the boost that this can provide. Whilst ‘local endowments and territorial characteristics have growing importance for regions in order to cope with and recover from external shocks’ (EU, Territorial Agenda, p. 5) this does not mean that places should stand alone in the face of crisis.
The EU recognises that regions may well “need external support to help find (and realise) their own paths of sustainable development”25, as, in many cases, the crisis has exposed the limitations of internal capacity and resources. As the Barca report observes, “an exogenous intervention might be needed to trigger change”26. It goes on to acknowledge, however, that such intervention must work with the grain of territorial assets and capacities – “the purpose is obviously not to import institutions from outside, but to provide the pre-requisites for them to develop, to tilt the balance of costs and benefits for local actors to start building up agency, trust and social capital, to change beliefs and to experiment with institutions and democratic participation”.