ESPON in a nutshell

ESPON is an EU-funded programme that supports public authorities responsible for designing territorial policies with quality expertise.

What is ESPON?

ESPON is an EU funded programme that bridges research with policies. We provide territorial analyses, data and maps to:

  • support EU development policies –and particularly Cohesion Policy- with facts and evidence.
  • help public authorities to benchmark their region or city, identify new challenges and potentials and shape successful development policies for the future.

All our content is publicly available on our website to download it and use it.

How is ESPON governed?

All 27 EU member states and 4 partner states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) participate to ESPON programme and contribute to its co-finance.

As every EU funded programme, ESPON is managed by a Managing Authority, which is the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning of Luxembourg.

The programme is implemented by the ESPON EGTC (European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation), which is a structure jointly created by Luxembourg together with the three Belgian regions of Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels Capital.

The total budget of ESPON for the programming period 2021- 2027 is EUR 60M, whereof the EU contribution is 80% (EUR 48M) and the contribution of the 27 member states is 20% (EUR 12M). In addition, the ESPON 2030 Programme receives support of EUR 1,685M from the 4 Partner States (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland).

What does ESPON do?

ESPON creates evidence and knowledge. We develop studies based on the needs of European public authorities at all levels. Any local, regional or national authority as well as an EU institution can inform us about policy support needs and become an ESPON stakeholder.

Our studies have a territorial focus, which means that our analyses are adjusted to the specificity and needs of the people and the places we are looking at.

For the ESPON 2030 Programme, our studies and events are clustered within the so-called Thematic Action Plans (TAPs) .

The results of these studies are then used in different ways:

  • Directly feed policy debates at the EU, national, regional and local level
  • Make the key EU policies, such as the Cohesion Policy, more effective, and boost the implementation of the Territorial Agenda of the EU 2030
  • Support the priorities of EU presidencies with tailormade research
  • Inspire policy dialogues at early stages and trigger policy transformation
  • Help citizens/policymakers to understand how their place (city/regions/area) performs in comparison to other European places
  • Provide fresh information and analyses on the topics that are high on the European agenda

How is ESPON support delivered?

Depending on the intended use, we deliver these research results in different formats:

  • Study reports -a comprehensive presentation of the scientific results
  • Publications - research conclusions via e.g. policy papers, atlases etc.
  • Interactive maps and dashboards- to illustrate the main findings of our research
  • Open data sets - ready and available for all to download and use
  • Storymaps – long, but easy to read articles enhanced with interactive maps, dashboards and visuals from the ESPON portal
  • Blog posts – short, easy to read articles on a specific topic
  • Videos - explanatory videos, events recordings and more, all available on our Youtube channel
  • Magazine articles - where we present opinions of influential policymakers and researchers

ESPON events

Regularly, ESPON is organising events to promote its results and facilitate interaction and networking.

  • ESPON seminars - in cooperation with the running presidency of the EU Council and focusing on its thematic priorities
  • ESPON networking and policy events – to facilitate exchange of experience, knowledge sharing and discussions on the findings of our studies
  • ESPON training events, e.g., to promote the use of ESPON web applications

Who benefits from ESPON?

  • Local, regional and national authorities are the main beneficiaries of our results. They can request our services and acquire tailormade studies that include benchmarking, case analyses and policy guidance on the topics of their interest.
  • ESPON is a unique resource of information for scientists, researchers and students. Since 2006, ESPON has been cited more than 20.000 times in academic publications. At the same time, many European universities and research centres are contracted by ESPON to conduct studies.
  • As our content is free for anyone to access and download, the private sector is also benefiting from our work. Consultancies, SMEs, even industries can use our publications to better position themselves in certain markets and/or adjust their products and services.
  • ESPON is a goldmine for journalists. It provides them with evidence and data to support their stories and connects them to a vast pool of experts and stakeholders.
  • ESPON can be equally useful to any active citizen interested in understanding how their city/region performs, or have an overview of main territorial trends in Europe, or simply browse our interactive maps and visuals.

I am a policymaker. How can I benefit from ESPON?

Benefit from our analyses. For 20 years, ESPON has been delivering territorial studies. From environmental issues to digital transformation and from sustainable land use to the perspectives of rural areas, you can find results and policy recommendations to support your policy decisions with science-based evidence. All our studies are available on our website and you can always contact us for more information.

Use our portal for more data and maps. All our datasets and indicators –together with thousands of maps - are available to download from our portal. You can use the portal to create and store interactive content – such as dashboards and maps - to be aware how your territory performs in different areas and prospers as compared with the rest of Europe.

Learn from our case studies. We offer numerous case studies that you can use to benchmark your territory, or draw experience if in a similar development situation, without the need to reinvent the wheel.

Ask/participate in a peer learning workshop. Do you want to know more about the results of a specific study, how it worked for our stakeholders and in which way it can be useful for you? Apply for a peer learning workshop. It is easy and you don’t need to go through complicated processes. Contact us or your national ECP so that we can organise this together.

Glance over our policy briefs and handbooks. It is always better to start with something easy to read. Use our policy briefs and handbooks to get a taste of what our projects can offer, read our articles on the blog and browse the TerritoriALL magazine to get inspired with policy conclusions.

Request the ESPON service. If you have a specific policy support need that topically fits into one of our TAPs, then feel free to enquire us. We offer different types of stakeholder engagement:

  • Calls for targeted analyses. They are open throughout the year, and we evaluate the submitted proposals on a regular basis. You need to have a concrete policy challenge and a European partnership to apply together. Please be aware that ESPON does not disburse grants to stakeholders. We support them by directly providing studies and arranging knowledge transfer through contracted researchers and in-house staff. Check our website, social media and newsletter for updates.
  • On-demand services. If you have a specific need, that requires a more tailormade approach, you can still ask ESPON to support you. In this case it is better to contact your national ECP to evaluate together if your policy need can be served by ESPON. We can meet them through on-demand territorial studies or snapshots of territorial analyses, but also through dedicated events, trainings and publications, even in your language.

I am a researcher. How can I benefit from ESPON?

Participate in the calls for tenders/experts. Our projects are implemented by consortia that include academics and researchers. We also commission scientific experts to different advisory roles. Check regularly our website, social media and newsletter for open calls

Use the ESPON knowledge for your research. ESPON has been delivering territorial studies for 20 years and, only since 2006, ESPON has been cited more than 20.000 times in academic publications. All our studies are available on our website and all the datasets and indicators – together with thousands of maps - are available to download from our portal.

Access and download datasets and indicators. You can use our portal not only to download datasets but also to create and store your own content – dashboards and maps for your own use.

Expand your network through our events. Our events on the most burning policy issues are held across Europe. Meet with research peers, but also talk to policymakers from European institutions, ministries, regions and municipalities that seek support and evidence to improve their policies.

Are you a young researcher or a student? We promote the involvement of young researchers and offer networking and visibility opportunities for them. We also provide internships for students in the fields relevant to the ESPON work.

I am a citizen. What can I do with ESPON?

Benchmark your place. Access our interactive portal and navigate through maps and dashboards from all our projects. You can also create and store your own dashboards and maps to help you understand how your territory performs and how it compares to other territories in Europe.

Read stories about places and policies. Our policy briefs can help you understand our research and the policies that cities and regions put in place to address key challenges. Our case studies describe in more detail these policies and lead to very specific results. Maybe your city, or your region is part of this collection. We also offer testimonials, interviews and articles from politicians, scientists, and practitioners in easy-to-read articles in our blog and our magazine.

Follow us on social media, subscribe to our newsletter, watch our videos, and listen to our podcasts for more.

Download our app: TerritoriALL, to read opinions of influential policymakers and researchers on the issues important for each citizen.

I am a journalist. How can I use ESPON?

Journalism is based on facts. And in times of misinformation and fake news, facts are the only way to create solid arguments for decisions. And these are backed with evidence and data.

Benefit from our analyses. If you are writing about green and energy transition, digital transformation, circular economy, urban issues, housing, youth unemployment, infrastructures, or the use of EU funds you can find evidence and data produced by experts in the fields to support your articles. All our studies are available on our website, but we are here to assist you in locating and extracting them.

Use our portal for more data and maps. All our datasets and indicators – together with thousands of maps - are available to download from our portal. You can also use the portal to create and store interactive content – dashboards and maps - displaying data on the European, national, regional and local level and use them to illustrate your pieces.

Reap new ideas for your stories: How did other cities, regions, countries find solutions that your area is still struggling with? What will the European territories look like in 20-30 years? Is Europe able to address the challenges of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, or the energy crisis?

Access a vast pool of experts. We can help you contact experts from the public and private sector - researchers, academics, policymakers - around Europe to share with you comments, statements, or analyses for your articles.

Do you have contacts in my country?

If you live in one of the 27 member states or one of the 4 partner states, yes, we have. ESPON has a network of ESPON Contact Points (ECP) in every programme country to help us communicate our results at the national, regional and local level, and - at the same time - provide us with feedback on the policy support needs each country has. You can use the interactive map at the bottom of our website to find the ECP in your country.

How can I participate?

But ESPON is not offering calls for grants to its stakeholders. We support them by directly providing services to them, through specialised service providers or in-house support.

We are publishing regularly calls for tenders, expressions of interest for stakeholders, internships and public consultations. Depending on your interest you can follow our news on our website, social media and our newsletter and find an opportunity that is relevant to you.

Can I ask more?

You can always contact us for more information.

[email protected]

Where is ESPON?

In Luxembourg

11, Avenue John F. Kennedy
L-1855 Luxembourg - Kirchberg
Tel: +352 425991-4700



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