Stronger together: recovering through crises
New challenges to territorial cohesion in Europe?


Lille, France


1 June 2022 to 2 June 2022

Place de Saintignon, 165 Av. de Bretagne
5900 Lille
Tel: +33 6 23 62 95 08
Email: [email protected]

What are the new challenges successive crises pose to territorial cohesion in Europe? What are the lessons we learned from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and what can we do better to improve the resilience of our territories? Finally, how has Cohesion Policy supported the European regions and cities so far, and is it possible to enhance its use and performance further?

The ESPON seminar in Lille under the title “Stronger together: recovering through crises” held on the 1st and 2nd of June 2022, with the support of the French Presidency, had many questions to answer.

Watch again the different sessions of the seminar on our YouTube channel

Scroll to the bottom of the page for the available presentations

See photos from the event

We asked some of the most relevant experts for answers: ULC professor, Mariana Mazzucato, one of the most influential economists and thinkers today, underlined that “we cannot have territorial cohesion without Green and Just transition and without capacity on the ground”. A Challenge oriented approach and mission-oriented policies are more important than ever, she explained and highlighted that we need market shaping and not market-fixing tools on the ground.

On behalf of the European Commission, Peter Berkovitz, Policy Development and Economic Analysis Director for DG REGIO, presented the main findings of the 8th Cohesion Report. He identified as the main challenges for territorial cohesion the development traps (where development is actually stacked), the growing innovation divide among European regions, the quality of governance, the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, and the demographic change.

Professor Carlos Llano from the Autonomous University of Madrid, presented some eye-opening findings from the ESPON IRIE project on the regional interrelations and flows of goods and people among the EU Regions. Professor Llanos showed the impact of the COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine on the EU regions but also the interdependencies that create secondary effects.

A high level panel with Philippe Cichowlaz, Head of the European Cohesion Policy Unit at the National Agency for Territorial Cohesion, Dragos Pîslaru, Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament, Eugenia Maruniak, Director of the Institute of Geography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Stefano Palmieri, President of the ECO Section of the EESC, Thomas Wobben, Director for Legislative Works at the CoR and Peter Berkowitz discussed in length the presentations and made proposals on how Europe can recover through crises, and emerge even stronger from them.

Following the plenary debates, a number of workshops went further in analysing in-depth the main questions of the seminar, providing fresh insights from the different ESPON projects on the impact of COVID-19, Interregional relations, cultural heritage, digital innovation, housing, transport, productive cities.

Social cohesion and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic: what have we learned so far?

Since March 2020, the resilience of European countries, regions and cities has been put at a high-pressure test. Regions were hit unevenly by the subsequent waves of the pandemic, and as a result, they have responded differently to the challenges brought forward. The workshop looked at the territorial dispersion of the subsequent waves, and focused on policy initiatives taken at the regional and local levels that have aimed to use and capitalise on the COVID-19 crisis as a 'window of opportunity'.

Interregional relations in Europe

This session presented new territorial evidence about interregional relations, focusing on flows of trade, people, capital and knowledge. it also looked at how regional interdependencies could evolve and what are policy implications of major policy shocks,  showcasing new globalisation trends and the impact of the conflict in Ukraine. The discussions will focus on policy options for territorial cohesion and regional development strategies.

Cultural Heritage as a Source of Societal Well-being in European Regions

The workshop featured  the final outcomes of a 2-year applied research project "Cultural Heritage as a Source of Societal Well-being in European Regions". The emphasis lied on some of the most intriguing findings concerning: the impact of Covid-19 on the use of cultural heritage, mapping contested heritage, examining gender gap in state funded museums, territorial hotspots in terms of the impact of cultural heritage related EU funded investments, etc.

Digital Innovation in Governance and Public Service Provision

Digital transformation has the potential to profoundly change public institutions as they will provide a new foundation, a new digital infrastructure serving the whole of society. This session presented the findings of the ESPON DIGISER project and the big challenges, digital maturity and the wider policy context, investment priorities and a path forward for the public administrations for the upcoming programming period.

Big Data and housing dynamics in cross-border regions

This workshop presented the diverse dynamics of cross-border housing markets across Europe, through indicators developed to measure the specificity of cross-border housing markets, that allow to analyse border effects, the interactions across the border and the implications for flows across the border. The indicators build on a combination of  data gathered via web scrapping, traditional statistical analysis and are linked to accessibility measures.

Closing Plenary Debate

The final plenary hosted an interview of Carlos Moreno, professor at the Paris Pantheon Sorbonne University on the 15 minutes city and 30 minutes territory and the impact of the COVID-19 on city planning and a presentation by Olivier Bouba-Olga, Head of Foresight Region Nouvelle Aquitaine (FR) and on why one size does not fit all and territorial specificities, trajectories and interdependencies needed to be taken into accound for deploying appropriate policy responses to local needs.

Making ground: (re)assembling the productive city

The historical and traditional relationship between the industry and the city has become more and more challenging. In such a context, cities and urban areas are facing on the one hand the progressive erosion of their traditional manufacturing bases, as well as the increasing rise of innovative-driven and knowledge-based economies. The workshop focused on the newly launched ESPON book, 'Making ground: (re)assembling the productive city, will present important trends that have occurred in the main European metro areas.

Sustainable Transport Infrastructure in the Strategic urban region Eurodelta: a step forward towards cross-border MaaS

ESPON recently concluded a research simulating passenger transport demand for 2030 and 2050, which calls for action in relation to the mobility fragmentation and inefficiencies across borders. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a very desirable policy topic, yet, remaining somewhat latent for policymakers, particularly when it comes to its cross-border dimension. This workshop revolved around the idea of Eurodelta-wide MaaS that was born during the ESPON Targeted Analysis 'Sustainable Transport Infrastructure in the Strategic urban region Eurodelta'. The ‘Megaregion Eurodelta’ is a cooperation network formed by Brussels and other metropolitan regions in Flanders, Northwest France, the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia. The workshop aimed at passenger transport policymakers, network incumbents and service providers at urban, peri-urban and cross-border scale in the Eurodelta.

Presenting latest ESPON tools: ACTAREA

A presentation of the ACTAREA ESPON tool that mpas soft territorial cooperation areas and initiative and supports stakeholders to think more territorially and elaborate shared representation of a functional spatial development patterns and perspectives.

Presenting latest ESPON tools: GGIA

A presentation of the ESPON Greenhouse Gas Impact Assessment tool that  assesses how spatial planning policies influence greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a consistent manner, compared to the GHG emissions in other regions and countries.

Outlook on the future of interregional cooperation

A joint session where INTERREG EUROPE, URBACT and ESPON Programmes presented their key priorities for the next programming period and indicated the potential benefits of combining the various types of support that INTERREG programs are bringing to efficiently address EU’s needs.

Closing session

In the closing session of the seminar, Thiemo Eser, from the ESPON Programme Managing Authority presented the main elements of the new ESPON programme 2030. Milada Hronkova, from the Department of European Territorial Cooperation, Ministry for Regional Development, Czech Republic. The director, ESPON EGTC, Wiktor Szydarowski, closed the seminar thanking everyone for their participation.


ESPON week draft programme 25 May 2022.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 1.30MB

List of participants.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 273KB

01 - C LLANO - interregional relations.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 15.96MB

02 - P BERKOWITZ - 8th Cohesion report.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 2.41MB

03 - WS Social cohesion and resilience during the COVID-19.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 47.47MB

04 - WS IRIE - X VELASCO - Key findings.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 12.69MB

05 - WS IRIE - T KOMORNICKI - Pan European analysis.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 6.64MB

06 - WS IRIE - C LLANO - Green Deal.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 6.87MB

07 - WS IRIE - CZAPIEWSKI & MARUNIAK - Refugees.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 11.02MB

08 - WS IRIE - RAUHUT - Policy options.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 1.24MB

09 - WS Cultural Heritage Manuela Samek Lodovici Cristina Vasilescu.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 2.69MB

10 - WS Cultural Heritage Erica Melloni.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 6.38MB

11 - WS Cultural Heritage Gro Ween.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 22.79MB

12 - WS Cultural Heritage Andrew Ormston.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 9.42MB

13 - WS Digital innovation in Governance.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 15.43MB

14 - WS Big Data and Housing.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 6.79MB

15 - closing plenary O Bouba Olga.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 847KB

16 - WS productive city.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 17.71MB

17 - WS sustainable transport.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 28.34MB

18 - WS greenhouse impact assesment.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 1.98MB

19 - WS interregional cooperation ESPON.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 1.27MB

20 - WS interregional cooperation Interreg Europe.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 3.10MB

21 - WS interregional cooperation Urbact.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 3.37MB

22 - Closing - Priorities of the Czech Presidency.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 5.38MB

23 - Closing - Th. Eser.pptx

  • Powerpoint Presentation | 2.08MB