March 11 d., 2018

25 EU country ministries discussed cluster policies

On 22 February 2018, representatives from 25 EU country ministries met in Brussels during EU Industry day. The meeting focused on modern cluster policies, notably, better use of clusters for driving industrial change and growth.

Key conclusions of the 1st European Cluster Policy Forum:

  • Cross-sectoral and cross-regional data on clusters across the EU is being gathered but an open discussion on the subject is needed
  • Awareness should be raised about existing synergies between cluster initiatives and policies, especially regarding smart specialisation, SMEs scaling-up and cross-sectoral collaboration (e.g. with the organisation of the European Cluster Week)
  • More mutual cluster policy discussions and interactive mutual learning events are needed to exchange experiences

Based on these conclusions EU countries intend to tackle the following topics during future forums:

  • Better use of clusters in support of entrepreneurship and the scaling-up of SMEs
  • Fostering cluster internationalisation – using strategic cluster partnerships to help clusters and their members go international
  • The impact of state-aid programmes on clusters
  • Cluster excellence – supporting capacity-building and the professionalisation of cluster management (incl. Erasmus for cluster managers)


National representatives from 25 EU countries, cluster policy experts and Commission officials talked about designing and implementing effective cluster policies by scaling up existing good practices. They learned about the latest development of European cluster initiatives and shared good practices to promote mutual cluster policy learning. The discussions addressed orientations, impacts and difficulties of EU, national and regional cluster initiatives.

Cluster policies in EU countries are at very different stages of development. In spite of these differences, all countries acknowledged the importance of strengthening national industrial ecosystems through cluster-driven growth. Common issues include reaching a critical mass of members in some sectors and coordination between the national and regional levels. Some countries flagged sustained funding of cluster-related initiatives as critical, while others noted the existing EU state-aid rules.

The Commission’s initiatives aimed at improving the management of cluster organisations and promoting cross-sectoral and international cluster linkages received strong support.  EU countries also value the mutual learning aspect. They want to participate in the following European Cluster Policy Forums and demanded to continue the exchanges beyond the planned 3 meetings. Furthermore, based on the outcomes of the successful German, French and Romanian cluster weeks, many EU countries would like to follow suit.

Next edition

The next European Cluster Policy Forum – with the support of the ‘European observatory for clusters and industrial change’, EOCIC – will take place on 26 April 2018 in Brussels focusing on cluster excellence and state-aid topics.

For general enquiries about the upcoming European Cluster Policy Forum, please contact

Reference documents

Presentations of the speakers:

The EOCIC prepared the input paper on modern EU cluster policies under guidance from European Commission officials. It served as the background material for the discussions. The input paper will be converted into an output paper including the outcomes of the forum and surveys distributed among EU countries.

Information source:

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