Future of cohesion policy in territories with geographic specificities
Participative event


Brussels, Belgium

Scotland House

10 October 2018

Rond-Point Schuman 6
1000 Brussels


In May 2018, the European Commission presented in proposals for Cohesion Policy regulations for the 2021-2027 programming period. These proposals are currently discussed by a wide range of stakeholders. The Committee of the Regions Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) will present its draft opinion in late October 2018, and its final opinion in January 2019, while the European Economic and Social Committee foresees to adopt its final opinion mid-October 2018.

In this context, we would like to collectively explore how the interests of territories with geographic specificities are taken into account. Does cohesion policy help to promote diverse development strategies, adapted to the preconditions of each territories and the objectives pursued by their inhabitants? Does it help to promote cooperation between territories with complementary strengths and weaknesses? Are sub-regional disparities, e.g. between mountain and lowland, islands and mainland, coast and inland, sufficiently taken into account in the design and implementation of cohesion policy?

In the morning of 10th October (between 9.30 and 11.00), a European Week of the Regions and Cities event is organised by the European Commission and the ESPON programme. During this event, DG REGIO will present their recent study looking into how the Member States are using the possibilities for supporting and strengthening the development of islands, mountains and sparsely populated areas through EU Cohesion Policy. Preliminary results from the ESPON BRIDGES study will also be presented. This study first seeks to get a better grip on the different dimensions of ‘geographical specificity’: what makes mountains, islands, sparsely populated areas and coastal zones different from a social, economic and environmental point of view? It then explores possible strategies to address opportunities and challenges linked to these specificities with a specific focus on multi-level territorial governance, involving actors from the local to European levels. 

As the morning session lasts only 90 minutes, there will only be time for presentations and panel debates with a few questions. The afternoon session is designed as a participative follow-up event, allowing all participants to present their own opinions and proposals on these topics.

Thematic focus

Discussions will be organised around three wide themes:

  • Addressing demographic change,
  • Providing the transport, accessibility and services of general interest needed for territorial development,
  • Linking natural and cultural heritage and tourism, as part of local economic development.

Within these topics, we will seek to identify issues that occur in territories with geographic specificities, and how cohesion policy could better help to address them. The objective is not to ‘single out’ territories with geographic specificities, but to approach them from the perspective of their interactions with neighbouring territories, the region and country they belong to


14.30 – 14.45

Welcome – brief overview of outputs of the morning session 
– Presentation of participative session

14.45 – 14.55

Introduction to first topic: Addressing demographic change

14.55 – 15.25

Group discussions

15.25 – 15.40

Reporting back to plenary, synthesis and comments by panel

15.40 – 15.50

Introduction to second topic: Transport, accessibility and services of general interest

15.50 – 16.20

Group discussions

16.20 – 16.35

Reporting back to plenary, synthesis and comments by panel

16.35 – 16.50

Coffee break

16.50 – 17.00

Introduction third topic: Linking natural and cultural heritage and tourism, as part of local economic development

17.00 – 17.30

Group discussions

17.15 – 17.30

Reporting back to plenary, synthesis and comments by panel

17.30 – 17.45

Concluding remarks by panel, perspectives on outputs may feed into debates on the design and implementation of cohesion policy.

 A synthesis note presenting outputs from the discussions will be produced and sent to all participants.