The overall benchmarking application is designed to allow comparisons of the Baltic Sea Region against other INTERREG transnational areas. While basically all INTERREG areas are suitable candidates for benchmarks, two areas have been chosen by the stakeholders of the project, namely the Alpine Space and the North Sea transnational areas.
In economic terms, the three regions are roughly of similar size. The economy of the Alpine space is only some 15 % larger than the BSR, and that of the North Sea some 5 % larger. In population terms the peer regions are somewhat smaller, around 60 % of the BSR, and area wise considerably smaller. The three regions however share roughly similar tendencies of central/peripheral polarisation both in pure geographic terms as well as on the urban-rural or core-periphery axis. What makes them distinct however is the fact that only the BSR is subdivided a still existing “east-west” division. In this sense the introduction of e.g. the Danube area as a peer region would have made sense. However, lack of data for parts of the Danube macro area would still to this day severely restrict any meaningful statistical comparison.
The benchmark is designed such as to compare the principal territorial levels of the macro regions on the whole with each other, for some exercises regional levels (NUTS-3, NUTS-2) will also be utilized. Apart from traditional comparisons e.g. to the EU27 average, more advanced analytic techniques such as coefficients of variations or Gini concentration indices were also used.
This test application resulted in a validation of the monitoring system’s ability to allow for macroregional benchmarking. It demonstrated the ease in utilising the information of the system to comparatively contrast different cooperation areas with each other.