Mainstreaming territorial cooperation: ESPON contribution to the debate on the post-2020 Cohesion Policy

The future of the Cohesion Policy was the recurring theme of this year's European Week of Regions and Cities. In an effort to support the debates with scientific territorial evidence, ESPON has inaugurated its European Territorial Review on 12 October in a conference that gathered about 200 delegates from cities and regions across the EU. The need for evidence-based policymaking has resonated throughout the day.  The President of the regional council of the Lombardy region and Member of the Committee of the Regions Raffaele Cattaneo said

"The ESPON Territorial Review comes at the right time. We need policy based on evidence not on emotions or speculations. The jeopardy of European disintegration that some are asking for could clearly have bad economic consequences for all European regions and territories. The Review gives us the evidence-based elements for better policymaking".

Based on recent ESPON research, the European Territorial Review examines a range of key societal challenges such as ageing and migration, economic development and employment, resources and energy, connectivity and access to services of general interest. It offers insights as to how these challenges manifest themselves in territorial patterns and reshape the Continent.

The findings throughout the Review boil down to the same conclusion: current and future territorial challenges of regions and cities can be tackled more effectively through cooperation at different geographic and functional scales – from functional urban to European.

The Review looks into proposals as to how this vision could materialize. The Director of the ESPON EGTC Ilona Raugze articulated the main conclusions of the evidence compiled in the report, encouraging the policymakers to consider mainstreaming of territorial cooperation in the post-2020 framework. She explained:

" This would mean that future Cohesion Policy programmes could include elements of territorial cooperation. Accordingly, Member States, regions and cities would be encouraged to propose integrated investment frameworks aiming to tackle the development challenges beyond administrative borders – at different functional scales and through territorial cooperation initiatives."

The "timely arrival" of the Review was reiterated by Iskra Mihaylova, the Chairwoman of the European Parliament REGI Committee. Ms Mihaylova drew on the ESPON message, saying that places cannot disregard other places in policy development and should cooperate, develop links between urban and rural areas, across borders, in transnational or macro-regional contexts. Welcoming the call for mainstreaming of territorial cooperation, Ms Mihaylova stressed that it was necessary to strengthen the cooperation across the various funding and cooperation mechanisms including macro-regional strategies, national and regional programmes.

These sentiments were echoed by Members of the Committee of the Regions. Michiel Rijsberman, regional Minister of the Province of Flevoland, said: 

"The ESPON report shows that the functional territories where people live and work have other borders in addition to their administrative and national borders. Cohesion Policy shall meet this reality".

Iskra Mihaylova who was the rapporteur for the REGI report on European Territorial Cooperation summarised that territorial cooperation initiatives were not only a regional policy matter but important for areas such as the single market, the digital agenda, employment, mobility, energy, environment, research, education, culture and healthcare.  With examples from practitioners in functional urban, cross-border, transnational and macro-regional contexts, the inauguration event demonstrated the benefits of cooperation initiatives for better governance, economic performance and the environment.  

Picture credit: Committee of the Regions, EWRC 2017


Mainstreaming cooperation - speech of Ilona RAUGZE, Director of ESPON EGTC.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 230KB

Introduction into the Review - presentation by Kai BOEHME.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 1178KB