Interregional relations in Europe


Interdependencies between European countries are well known and strongly documented, but this is not the case for the relations between European regions. This new ESPON project aims at providing a new understanding of the interrelations between Europe’s economies at the regional level. To achieve this goal, this research will use innovative methods to overcome data limitations on interregional linkages and flows of people, goods, capital, knowledge and services. The analysis of the relationships between regions will determine the extent to which the existence and the intensity of interregional flows are drivers for and/or barriers to the development of regional competitiveness and cohesion.

The result shall be both a big picture of regional interdependencies and specific insights according to different identified situations (e.g. border regions, outermost regions, regional relations within countries, peripheral versus central regions…). The overall ambition is to provide a new frame of reference for supporting regional development policies and informing regional convergence. As an example, this should give regional and national policymakers useful understanding of the potential impacts of the European Green Deal.

Policy Questions:

  • What are the characteristics and intensity of interregional relations in Europe in terms of trade of goods, services, capital, people or other relevant flows? How did they evolve over the years?
  • How can regional interdependencies at European level be depicted? How structural/important are these interdependencies in order to better understand regional development (competitiveness, cohesion, well-being, quality of life…)? How can regions be clustered according to this relatedness?
  • What should be the impacts of potential political decisions or shocks (e.g. Brexit, implementation of the New Green Deal…) on interregional relations and what is the level of exposure or resilience of European Regions accordingly?
  • More generally, what are the conditions and drivers that appear to increase interregional flows in diverse regional contexts? What are the barriers that appear to inhibit interregional relations?
  • What interventions may reduce/increase such barriers? For which policy purposes and potential impacts? Which EU, national or regional policies have already demonstrated efficiency in addressing interregional flows?


  • Navarra de Suelo Y Vivienda (NASUVINSA), ES (lead contractor)
  • Asociación Centro de Predicción Económica (CEPREDE), ES
  • Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization Polish Academy of Sciences (IGSO PAS), PL
  • Spiekermann & Wegener, Stadt- und Regionalforschung (S&W), DE
  • Delft University of Technology, NL
  • University of Eastern Finland (UEF), FI
  • University of Thessaly (UTH) Research Committee, EL

Project Support Team:

  • Marie-Lorraine Dangeard (France)
  • Ivan Lajtman (Croatia)
  • Margarita Golovko (Estonia)


€ 902,087.12


April 2020 – April 2022


  • Inception delivery, 29 May 2020
  • Interim delivery, 22 January 2021
  • Draft Final delivery, 31 December 2021
  • Final delivery, 22 April 2022


Nicolas Rossignol (Head of Unit Evidence and Outreach) [email protected] and Marta Roca (Financial Expert)  [email protected]


Policy Brief Interregional relations in Europe.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 1.36MB

IRiE Project Brief July 2021.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 28.16MB

IRIE working paper on trade flows.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 2.24MB

IRIE full case study on trade flows between FR ES PT.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 4.57MB