The necessity for regional policy-makers to find a balance between shaping and adapting to structural change is well-known. But to what extent does this apply to a European strategy with a «soft» governance process relying largely on benchmarking and peer pressure – the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs? Paradigms for an increase of competitiveness – also regional competitiveness – spelled out so often and vigorously lose their degree of assertiveness, when turning to economic theory for their foundations. The authors – economists and political scientists with practical experience in EU institutions – deal in their contributions with different issues relevant for decision-makers in modern regional policy. By doing so, it is possible to challenge the seemingly established consensus on what is feasible in the EU and what is not.