Urban enterprise zones and the Brussels zone of economic expansion in the city (ZEEC) : Brussels’ policy instruments and strategies for mixed-use development in a European context

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Urban enterprise zones (UEZs) are part of a toolbox of spatial policy instruments that are used worldwide to stimulate economic development and growth (Briant et al. 2012, Givord et al. 2012, Green et al. 2001, Ham et al. 2012, IWEPS 2014, and Mayneris 2014). The Brussels Capital Region (BCR) will shortly introduce a UEZ along the canal Brussels-Charleroi, named Zone voor Economische Uitbouw in de Stad, or in English, Zone of Economic Expansion in the City (ZEUS-ZEEC). This zone will be used specifically to attract enterprises in deprived neighborhoods (BHG 2013, 2014a). The stimulation of job creation by attracting enterprises with fiscal benefits is used as a strategy to reduce unemployment. The ZEUS-ZEEC was approved by Ordonnance (BHG 2014a) in January 2014 but is not implemented yet, because the authorized Minister is awaiting an evaluation of several policy instruments for economic expansion, including the ZEUS-ZEEC (BHG 2008, 2015). Researchers are mostly negative to moderately positive about UEZs because they do not reduce unemployment as they are supposed to do, because land prices rise in that particular zone, etc. (Givord et al. 2012, Green et al. 2001, Mayneris 2014, and Rousseau 2010). The underlying question is whether UEZs reduce or reproduce inequality? An analysis of international cases shows us that the Zone Franche Urbaine (ZFU) – the French variant of UEZs– of Roubaix, Lille, is an exception and is seen in its beginning period as very successful by researchers (Colomb 2007, Green et al. 2001). How can we understand the success of Roubaix? Can we trace policy elements that have contributed to Roubaix’ success that are transferable to other contexts? Can the BCR learn from the ZFU Roubaix to enhance the ZEEC’ succeeding, so that the UEZ can rather reduce inequality instead of reproducing it?
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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