2020 challenges ahead

2020 is a landmark year for Europe. Brexit apart, what are the challenges and EU is facing and how is ESPON supporting European stakeholders to address them?

The New Multiannual Financial Framework: An agreement on the new MFF -that will define the EU budget for -more or less- the next decade must be soon reached to allow the next programming period to start in time avoiding any delays that might impact European growth. This is linked also with the new Cohesion Policy. EU's biggest development policy aims to be smarter, greener, more connected, more social and closer to the citizens. It is now the time to decide how this will be implemented in practical terms. 

In ESPON we have dedicated most of our resources to support policymakers in preparing for the new programming period. We have developed different sets of indicators and tools to assess the impact of the designed policies and we provided evidence through our projects that more cooperation among different levels of government is needed.

We summarized our findings in Policy Briefs and two recapitulative publications, the State of the European Territory Report and the ESPON contributions to post-2020 programming of European Structural and Investment Funds. In 2020 -additionally, to our new projects and Policy Briefs -we will make available an online library of our policy guides to support further regional and local stakeholders to use a more human-centric approach to the design of their policies.

The European Green Deal: Cutting emissions and at the same time creating jobs ensuring a just and inclusive transition to a climate-neutral EU by 2050 is an ambitious goal and all stakeholders must show their commitment to it. Most of the ESPON projects -like Alps250- do take into account the environmental aspect of their evidence. Others -i.e. GRETA- are focusing directly on the impact of territorial development to the various ecosystems. In 2020 we are publishing two Policy Briefs in cooperation with the Croatian Presidency: One on Green Infrastructure and another on Circular economy. And we are dedicating our seminar, 27-28 May, in Zadar, to the Green economy

The New Territorial Agenda: European Territorial Agenda is set to be renewed at the end of 2020. It will provide a solid framework for territorial cooperation to make sure no places will be left behind. ESPON’s contribution was already recognized in the Bucharest declaration and served as an input for the intergovernmental discussions during the Finnish presidency of the EU. In 2020 we will continue working in the same direction and we will present our work during the ESPON seminar in Berlin in November 2020. 

In ESPON we worked hard the past years to built a solid knowledge database that is supporting policymakers to address key challenges in policy design. In 2020 we will intensify our efforts to reach out to policymakers at all levels and offer them our support.

2020 marks a milestone for Europe, a closing and a new start. We have the knowledge and the tools to make it a year of European cooperation and success.

Ilona Raugze, Director of the ESPON EGTC