Second ESPON 2013 Synthesis Report

Territorial insight: Where to focus what types of investments

Results by early 2013


June 2013 - EU Cohesion Policy post-2013 focuses on eleven investment themes where cities and regions need to improve their performance in order to contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. In seeking better integration to maximise the benefits from investment of public money, all key themes of the future European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) need to take account of Europe’s territorial diversity.

The ESPON Synthesis Report connects territorial evidence from ESPON to the eleven key themes for investment of the ESIF. In doing so, it reveals important territorial differences and framework conditions that need to be considered for an efficient and effective use of the investment through ESIF and for achieving the objectives of Europe 2020.

Different types of cities and regions need different types of investments. The analysis carried out by ESPON projects can assist policy makers to better target their strategies and enhance the performance of their regional economies. This will also help to strengthen a place-based approach for the development of future ESIF programmes, as well as the selection and delivery of projects to be funded.

Key territorial challenges for future cohesion policy

Territorial evidence needs to be taken into account for each of the ESIF themes in order to develop effective and efficient programmes and projects. The following provides a quick overview of some of the main territorial concerns for each theme. 

  1. Strengthening research, technological development and innovation. Territorial analysis of innovation patterns offers hints on where increased investments in R&D or in human capital is more likely to result in increased innovation and economic growth.
  2. Enhancing access to, use and quality of information and communication technologies. The use of and capacity to benefit from ICT, e.g. through use of e-commerce, differs between countries more than between regions. In addition to national patterns, there are also rural-urban disparities in ICT access within countries.
  3. Enhancing the competiveness of SMEs. A regional economic environment open to extra-European trade can be important. Within the urban hierarchy, metropolitan regions generally show higher shares of extra-European trade.
  4. Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors. The regions with most potential for wind, wave, tidal and solar energy are often in peripheral locations, so there is potential to integrate energy and environmental aims with European competitiveness and territorial cohesion aims.
  5. Promoting climate change adaptation and risk prevention and management. There is a north-south difference in adaptation capacity, exacerbating the vulnerability of regions in the south where e.g. access to water resources will be a particular issue requiring new approaches to governance and not just new and costly technologies. There are also threats to bio-diversity and cultural heritage, and there will be impacts on and new challenges for the agricultural and forestry sectors as well as for tourism.
  6. Protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency. There is potential for eco-system goods and services to contribute to efficient resource use, regional economic growth and territorial cohesion. Natural resources are a key part of territorial capital and therefore an important asset in the endogenous development of regions and cities.
  7. Promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures. Modernisation of transport is important for a resource-efficient Europe.
  8. Promoting employment and supporting labour mobility. Labour mobility between European countries is still low compared to domestic migration between regions. The extent to which the big agglomerations attract migrants seeking jobs, and the demographic changes that result, will pose new challenges for regional economies and for access to adequate labour supply in many regions.
  9. Promoting social inclusion and combating poverty. Social inclusion and poverty are highly linked to national systems and policies. Consequently there are considerable differences between countries. The highest rates of “at risk of poverty” are revealed in a geographical arc running east and south from Poland to Greece, in southern Italy and Spain, but also in the UK.
  10. Investing in education, skills and lifelong learning. Regions on the Iberian Peninsula and in Turkey and Greece are places where most progress is needed on measures to enhance levels of education.
  11. Enhancing institutional capacity and ensuring an efficient public administration. The success of future ESIF programmes in extracting maximum value from the money invested will depend greatly on governance and institutional capacity at regional and local level. New skills and ways of doing things will be needed.

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Second ESPON 2013 Synthesis Report

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