ESPON lauded by EU Commissioner Creţu and Luxembourg's State Secretary Gira

The ESPON EGTC hosted a meeting between EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu and Luxembourg's State Secretary for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure Camille Gira on 12 April. The need for evidence-based policy was a common thread amidst reflections on post-2020 European Union.

State Secretary Gira stressed that a just and reasonable policy making builds upon facts and sound scientific evidence, and that this shall be a leading principle in future planning, governance and investments. This is a mission that ESPON is continuously perfecting. He said:

The idea is basically to further develop the policy relevance and successful initiatives at the core of ESPON’s DNA: informing policy-making by real evidence in a world where the lines between facts and opinions is increasingly blurring.

The meeting was a conduit for recent ESPON territorial evidence that necessitates more targeted support for functional areas as well as capacity building for a systemized cooperation and integration of different policies and funding streams. Endorsing this, Commissioner Creţu said:

I am a big fan of ESPON's work. I really appreciate this programme. It is an added value for territorial cohesion. Cooperation beyond administrative borders and capacity building for policy makers are among the ESPON principles that resonate very well with the what we think in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy in the post-2020 debate.

ESPON EGTC Director Ilona Raugze explained the mission that ESPON has been pursuing over the last 15 years. The programme had been serving as a bridge between policy makers and researchers, supporting territorial policies and investments in the most efficient way. In doing so, ESPON sought to attain the best yields from Cohesion Policy investments for the future of European citizens. Speaking to Euractiv, she said:

Our advice for the future of Cohesion Policy is to support the design and implementation of local and regional strategies because regions understand better the needs of the citizens... This will allow to increase the visibility of this investment but also to avoid wasteful investments. 

Amidst the discussions on the future of EU policies, notably the Cohesion Policy, the meeting lent weight to the argument that a better understanding of the territorial needs and challenges as well as thinking beyond administrative borders shall precede the design of policy interventions. The EGTC Director concluded:

Places should be encouraged to cooperate.

This is a principle mirrored in the daily operation of ESPON: the ESPON EGTC employs a team of 24 people from 16 different nationalities who work together towards stronger territorial cohesion

Related post: Press conference with Commissioner Creţu and State Secretary Gira on the role of evidence-based policy making and ESPON for the future of EU policies