INTERCO - Indicators of Territorial Cohesion

Thematic scope

The Lisbon Treaty adds the aim “Territorial Cohesion” as an official policy aim of the EU to the earlier aims of economic and social cohesion. Hence, the Commission and EU Member States are in a process of defining further the concept of “Territorial Cohesion”. The Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion of 2008 did bring this topic to a wide public debate. Detailing future Structural Funds 2014-2020 is expected to further progress the concept. In order to understand structures, trends and scenarios related to territorial cohesion it highlights the need to improve the evidence base and develop indicators related to territorial cohesion in order to monitor territorial dynamics related to the policy aim. The main objective of the Territorial Indicators and Indices Project is therefore to develop a set of indicators and indices that could be used to support policy makers in measuring and monitoring territorial cohesion related to European territorial development.

This project shall provide a set of comparable and reliable indicators and indices that can be used to measure territorial cohesion, complex territorial development, structural issues, territorial challenges and opportunities as well as territorial effects at different geographical levels and types of regions. During the different steps in developing this set of indicators and indices other ESPON projects and relevant policy makers and stakeholders will be involved.

Please read more about the main research areas and main results envisaged on the next page.

Lead Partner

University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Detailed information on the contracted project team can be found under Transnational Project Groups.

Budget: € 396 400.00

Project’s lifetime: February 2010 – February 2012

Delivery of Reports

Inception Report: 31 August 2010
Interim Report: 31 March 2011
Draft Final Report: 30 November 2011
Final Report: 29 February 2012


 Reports will be published once they are approved by the ESPON Monitoring Committee

More information

Please contact the Project Expert at the ESPON Coordination Unit:
Marjan VAN HERWIJNEN, e-mail: [email protected]

Main research areas

  • Description of territorial cohesion based on existing policy documents in order to define the objectives and indices which can be used to measure territorial cohesion, complex territorial development, structural issues, territorial challenges/opportunities and territorial effects.
  • Clarify the interrelations between the main territorial challenges, the policy orientations and the issues to be measured
  • Drawing from these interrelations three main research activities for the construction of the indicators are the social/institutional dimension, the theoretical dimension and the empirical dimension. The approach will be participatory, conceptual and pragmatic.
  • Identification and involvement of the relevant stakeholders in the creation and evaluation of indicators and in setting the targets
  • Identification of the issues that should be measured at different spatial and temporal scales by different types of indicators
  • Transparency and Comprehensibility of the indicators identified.
  • Communication of indicators and indices in a clear and attractive manner which enables everybody to understand them
  • A mixture of indicators will be taken into account like classical socio-economic indicators, indicators on thematic/territorial issues and new composite “territorial cohesion” indicators reflecting the main territorial challenges
  • Applying the 5-level-approach where relevant and feasible

Main results envisaged

In the first phase the involvement of the stakeholders is the centre of attention and the project shall be embedded in the wider ESPON and policy context, before defining the Indicators in the second phase. The third phase will be focused on the calculation of the indicators and the last phase will be devoted to the communication of indicators for territorial cohesion.

  • Study of relevant policy documents regarding concepts and indicators
  • Participation processes to collect ideas for useful indicators from policy makers and the ESPON Community and to evaluate the preliminary results of the study leading into an Evaluation Report
  • A detailed evaluation matrix for the indicators
  • Potential of existing and new indicators evaluated in terms of quality and relevance
  • List of data sources and data providers providing required input data
  • GIS-based indicator toolset incl.: d-base, GIS and statistical tools and mapping functions
  • A set of calculated territorial indicators and indices, presented in maps, statistics and tables
  • A set of indicators and indices, including metadata, for the overall ESPON database
  • Communication Plans for the interaction with other ESPON projects and for the interaction with policy makers and stakeholders


Final Report - Executive Summary

  • Acrobat Document | 356KB

Final Report

  • Acrobat Document | 1.07MB

Final Report - Scientific Report

  • Acrobat Document | 43.07MB

Final Report - Indicators Factsheets

  • Acrobat Document | 11.55MB

Draft Final Report

  • Acrobat Document | 1.10MB

Draft Final Report - Scientific Report

  • Acrobat Document | 15.89MB

Draft Final Report - Annexes

  • Acrobat Document | 11.79MB

Note on the thematic selection of indicators

  • Acrobat Document | 152KB

Interim Report

  • Acrobat Document | 43.54MB

Inception Report

  • Acrobat Document | 672KB

Project Specification

  • Acrobat Document | 74KB