Regions economically differ from each other - they compete in different products and geographical spaces, exhibit different strengths and weaknesses, and provide different possibilities for growth and development. What fosters growth in one region may hamper it in another. This highly original book presents an accessible methodology for identifying competitors and their particular circumstances in Europe, discusses regional competitiveness from a conceptual perspective, and explores both past and future regional development policies in Europe. The authors illustrate that for the concept of regional competition to be valued correctly, it should not solely be identified by the structural asset characteristics of cities and regions. They therefore present an unique applied analytic framework that takes into account economically valued network relations between places of (mobile) production factors and traded goods.Underpinned with thorough analysis and theory, the framework uses actual networks of competing and economically valued relations between regions to help developing smart specialization strategies that are central in the place-based policy initiatives of the new European cohesion policy. This path-breaking book presents a crucial contribution to the current academic discussion on regional competitiveness and the policy debate on smart specialization, place-based development and cohesion policy in the European Union. As such it will prove an invaluable read for academics, researchers, students and policymakers with an interest in economics - particularly applied regional economics, European studies, and regional studies.