Towards Better Territorial Governance in Europe

A guide for practitioners, policy and decision makers based on
contributions from the ESPON TANGO Project

Cover-GovernancePolicy context of a guide to better territorial governance in Europe

Europe is still in recovery from a deep financial crisis and is struggling with unemployment and social exclusion. At the same time, it must switch to a low carbon economy and adapt to climate changes that are already underway. Responding to these daunting tasks requires effective and urgent policy initiatives and actions at European, national, regional and local levels as well as across different policy sectors. This is well recognised in the EU growth strategy for the coming decade, known as “Europe 2020”, and aimed at making the EU a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy.

The so called “place based approach” described in the Barca Report and good governance with a strong adaptive capacity are critical factors to address the agenda set in the Europe 2020 strategy. The Barca Report explains that a place based approach to development policies “refers both to the context dependent nature of the efficiency and equity problems that the policy deals with, and to the fact that the design of integrated interventions must be tailored to places, since it largely depends on the knowledge and preferences of people living in it”.

The growing importance of territorial governance to achieve further territorial cohesion was discussed in the “Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion”. It is further reflected in the Territorial Agenda of the European Union 2020 from 2011 and the NTCCP (Network of Territorial Cohesion Contact Points) report from 2013, both of which call for a place based, territorially sensitive and integrated approach to policies, to improve the performance of actions on all levels and create synergies between different types of policy interventions.

Similarly, the legislative proposals set up for the EU cohesion policy period 2014-20 envisage a Common Strategic Framework (CSF) that has to be implemented through the principles of “partnership and multi level governance“ to meet the territorial challenges of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Better territorial governance is thus needed for a place based cohesion policy that can contribute to a better Europe.

Who is the guide for?

Practitioners, i.e. private or public professionals that are engaged in territorial governance activities at different scales and/or cohesion policy programmes or projects in Europe.

Policy makers, i.e. public executives and officials in charge of territorial governance at various administrative levels. They may also have the responsibility to implement cohesion policy at the EU level (e.g. officials of the European Commission) or at national, regional and local levels in the Member States. Plans, programmes and projects are their main means of delivering territorial governance.

Decision makers who are mostly democratically elected politicians, such as members of the EU Parliament, national parliaments, or regional and municipal councils. However, they may also include persons appointed as representatives to bodies with decision making powers, e.g. community representatives in partnerships for regional development. They are often in charge of ministerial or departmental roles related to territorial governance and to cohesion policy. Through their democratic mandate or a high level appointment, they are the ones that can establish rules on territorial governance.

However, the essence of governance is that it extends beyond governments, engaging a potentially wide range of stakeholders and non governmental institutions.

What does the guidance do?

This guide highlights key elements for improving territorial governance in Europe. In that respect, it unfolds five core dimensions by presenting their components, provides a checklist and indicators, and suggests techniques that can be adopted and rules that have to be followed. Each dimension corresponds with one recommendation suggested for improving territorial governance. Building upon these, the guide shows how theory can be put into practice and provides insights from different territorial governance examples. These examples are presented in some detail in the last chapter.

Why is a guidance needed?

Effective partnership working across different scales is recognised as essential for Europe’s cohesion and economic recovery. The Common Strategic Framework for cohesion policy 2014-2020 seeks much better integration of policies, and a more rigorous focus on achieving desired outcomes. In other words, better governance is fundamental to achieving the goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Integration and partnerships need a territorial dimension if they are to deliver the desired synergies.

More information

ESPON Guidance "Towards Better Territorial Governance in Europe" is available below.

This guidance was written by the researchers on the ESPON project TANGO - Territorial Approaches to New Governance.

Should you have questions please do not hesitate to contact the ESPON Coordination Unit at [email protected]


Towards Better Territorial Governance in Europe

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