Europe is about regions and cities, it is about citizens

ESPON EGTC at the European Week of the Regions and Cities - awarded by the Committee of the Regions

“A place-based approach is key for Europe to reconnect with its citizens”. This quote of Ilona Raugze, director of ESPON EGTC, summarizes the contribution of ESPON EGTC in the 2018 European Week of Regions and Cities that was held from 08 to 11 of October in Brussels.

A great moment for ESPON EGTC was our awarding by the Committee of the Regions with an honourable mention as a recognition for our contribution in “building Europe across borders”, a biennial award for European EGTCs with outstanding and influential work in their field.

Following the award ceremony and over four intense days ESPON representatives participated in 10 different events addressing more than 800 participants.

ESPON experts presented facts and data based on the results of our research followed by policy recommendations to improve the added value of public and private investments and increase citizens active involvement in the process of designing development policies.

We summarized some of the main results of these debates, in one quote from each workshop:

Regarding Financial Instruments, there is a shift from being mainly used to provide loans, to a more balanced distribution among equity, guarantees and loans in this programming period. In the 2021-2027 programming period, where Cohesion Policy resources are planned to be scarcer, the overall importance of financial instruments will be increasing. That was the main message from Stefan Appel, Head of Unit of DG REGIO during our event on Financial instruments and territorial cohesion.

“Leadership is crucial for digital transition, but most cities do not have a strategy on that. Collaboration on EU, national and regional level with the private sector is key for the digital transition of small, medium and large cities” said Laurent Frideres, Head of Unit of ESPON EGTC, presenting ESPON research results in the event: Towards building a user-centric digital public sector

“The place-based approach definitely contributed to achieve the territorial cohesion of territories with geographical specificities as it is based on local and regional needs, builds on specific strengths of these territories and aims to disclose the related potential. These areas can function as reference areas for soft cooperation”. That was the main outcome of the event EU close to Islands, Mountains and Sparsely populated areas, organized by DG REGIO.

“SMEs located where foreign firms are concentrated tend to be more productive. The smaller they are the more they benefit from the interaction with foreign firms” underlined Eva Rytter Sunesen from Copenhagen Economics, speaker in the Scaling-up SMEs and attracting FDI event.

“The main problems in border regions come from incompatible legislations that tend to be "border blind". DG REGIO developed a Territorial Impact Assessment tool to support the identification of these problems and ESPON's quick scan tool is part of this toolbox” said Natalie Verschelde from DG REGIO in her presentation for the event: Tailor made legislation for regions and cities?

“Territorial cooperation: we need to move from legal national regions to functional crossborser regions and empower people to participate to local initiatives. We have to change our mentality moving from competition to cooperation”. Those are some messages from the participants in the interactive workshop: Towards a European Territorial Reference Framework

“45% of the EU territory is defined as inner peripheries. Such imbalances create tensions and disconnection from the European project for the citizens. The future of Cohesion should offer support to local strategies, making people co-owners of these strategies” stated Ilona Raugze, presenting the results of ESPON’s project during a side event under the title: Cohesion Policy delivers.

In parallel with the events, ESPON welcomed the 6,000 visitors in a stand dedicated to Territorial Data, together with Eurostat, the OECD and the JRC, where they had the chance to explore our online tools using an interactive game that was guiding them to choose and use the most appropriate tool for their needs.

“Europe is not just Brussels and Strasbourg but every city and region” said the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker at the opening session on Monday. In these 3 days ESPON backed this statement with specific data, concrete policy recommendations and online tools that support stakeholders to add a place-based approach in their decision-making processes.



[1]The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event gathering over 6,000 participants from all over Europe and giving the opportunity to local, regional, national and local stakeholders to present their results and debate about the future of Cohesion and other EU policies. More on the EWRC can be found here

[2] Photos from all events ESPON participated and presentations from the workshops we organised are available on our website


Press Release: ESPON at the EWRC 2018

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