Project Specification

Territorial challenges relevant for ESPON 2013 projects

The development of the European territory is facing several ongoing mega trends and impacts of policies:

  • The integration of the EU in global economic competition is accelerating, offering more options for regions and larger territories in deciding on their development path as development is no longer a zero sum game for Europe.
  • Interaction is growing between the EU territory and the surrounding neighbour countries as well as the other parts of the world, becoming apparent by e.g. migration pressure on more developed countries, which are themselves confronted with population decline and by access to and investment in new markets.
  • Market forces and the evolution of society in general are supporting a geographical concentration of activities.
  • The ongoing demographic change with an ageing European population and migration is affecting the regions differently and boosts the competition for skilled labour.
  • The occurrence of hazards is increasing due to climate change while different parts of Europe experience different types of hazards.
  • Increasing energy prices and the emergence of a new energy paradigm have significant territorial impacts, some regions being more affected than others, some of which have particular potential for production of renewable energy sources.
  • The enlargement of the EU to 27 Member States, and at a later stage maybe to more, presents an unprecedented challenge for the competitiveness and internal cohesion of the Union.

ESPON results have revealed that territorial capital and opportunities for development are inherent in the regional diversity that is a characteristic of Europe. Consequently, different types of territories are endowed with diverse combinations of resources, putting them into different positions for contributing to the achievement of the Lisbon and Gothenburg Agendas as well as to Cohesion Policy. Territorial diversity, particularly in the economic base, implies that strategies other than opting for a knowledge-based economy might be more appropriate and viable for some regions.

The ESPON 2006 Programme provided integrated analysis and long term spatial scenarios which enriched the European policy debate and knowledge base. The results and observations produced by ESPON on territorial structures, trends, perspectives and assessment of EU policy impacts had not been fully evident before and supported a better understanding of the European dimension of territorial dynamics. Therefore, interest is growing among policy makers and practitioners for the information, knowledge and understanding ESPON can offer.

The ESPON 2013 Programme shall bring this knowledge base one step further by carrying out applied research and targeted analysis, indicator development and data collection, capitalisation events presenting results, etc. All these actions will be related to an improved understanding of territorial structures, development trends, perspectives and policy impacts.

The European-wide evidence provided by the ESPON 2007-2013 Programme will potentially benefit stakeholders all over Europe at all levels. Policy makers dealing with territorial development require sound evidence and comparable regionalised information as well as medium and long-term development perspectives in order to draw up sustainable and efficient integrated policy responses for their territories.

All in all, the European process moves towards a more integrated approach to policy making which makes the territorial dimension important for policy makers. The aim of territorial cohesion proposed by the Commission supports this approach by taking the territory as an element in the framework for policy making. Due to its provision of evidence based on analyses of territorial units the ESPON 2013 Programme is of strategic importance for the European policy development and cooperation.

By further extending and deepening the existing knowledge and indicators, the ESPON 2013 Programme will play a strategic role in supporting the policy process of the current period 2007-2013, namely by contributing to the development of Cohesion Policy.


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