Public consultation on the strategic orientation of the next ESPON programme 2021-2027

Since 2002, the ESPON programme organises and finances applied research, place-based analyses and specific tools to support the formulation of territorial development policies in Europe with evidence, systematic data, maps, policy advice and pan-European comparative analysis. ESPON assists regions, cities and national governments to improve the quality of their decision-making by supporting the development, implementation and monitoring of their policies and strategies. The ESPON programme is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and by all European Union Member states and the four Partner States Island, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Why this consultation?

The countries participating in the ESPON programme formed a Joint Working Group (JWG) to prepare a proposal for the ESPON programme covering the coming funding period 2021-2027. The JWG formulated an intervention logic and is calling now for inputs, feedback and ideas to shape the next ESPON programme.

Who and how to participate?

The public consultation invites all policy-makers and practitioners from all administrative levels, researchers, academia, students and citizens, in particular interest for those who think that “territory matters” and that a place-based and territorial approach can provide for a better understanding of the challenges ahead of us.

Participants were invited to answer 5 questions by 19 August 2020. The contributions will be compiled and discussed at the next meeting of countries participating in the ESPON programme.

Shaping the future of ESPON: the challenges ahead

1. Strengthening the link - Bringing the evidence closer to the user

The mere provision of territorial evidence is not enough to meet the needs of policy-makers. The evidence has to be understandable, accessible and specifically tailored to their requirements. The underlying rationale of the next ESPON programme shall be to better place the research and evidence produced by ESPON into the context of policy-makers, so that they can use the ESPON evidence in real policy processes. This can only be achieved by directly connecting evidence production with outreach and knowledge development activities. 

2. Strategic orientation – Green and Just in a Territorial perspective

ESPON is embedded in Cohesion Policy and should contribute to its main goals while also supporting the EU Territorial Agenda 2030 and its implementation with a particular focus on territorial cohesion. The Green Deal and the recovery strategy from the COVID crisis broadens the framework for the future ESPON programme; however, a sharper focus of ESPON activities is needed.

Territories are exposed to diverse territorial trends, competing policy goals or contradictory sector policies, which may lead to self-reinforcing impacts on the territory. Therefore, territorial policy responses have to offer integrated approaches to steer the development in an effective way.

ESPON intends to support policymakers at all levels by providing territorial evidence and knowledge for policy responses. The focus being on strengthening the recovery and resilience of EU territories from the crises by achieving a green transition to climate-neutral economies while ensuring at the same time just living conditions for all people in all places.

The territorial and functional perspective is the cornerstone of ESPON’s evidence and knowledge. This supports public stakeholders to find appropriate and coordinated policy responses across sectors and governmental levels to the advantage of European citizens.

3. Better planning of activities – Thematic approach to evidence and knowledge

The programming of ESPON’s activities will be done in a more strategic and integrated way through individual thematic action plans (TAPs). TAPs are comprehensive work packages that identify the evidence needs in relation to a specific territorially relevant topic.

This strategic programming approach through TAPs will allow for an early dialogue between policy-makers and scientists to assess how the specific needs can be addressed. Furthermore, the evidence production can be better linked to activities directly targeted at the users.

How can you contribute?

This consultation aims at collecting your views on what ESPON should focus on, in particular:

  • The territorial challenges ahead you think are emerging;
  • The specific territorial evidence needed in order to tackle them; and
  • The specific support in terms of knowledge development that you think is most useful to be provided by ESPON in the future.

Your inputs are very useful to further shape the future programme. Therefore, we would like to thank you very much in advance for your time and active participation in the consultation.

The survey is closed

The PDF version of the survey is available for download below.


Public consultation ESPON post 2020.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 1.03MB