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ESPON: The European Observation Network for
Territorial Development and Cohesion
Cliff Hague, Eleanor Rowe, Julius Ursu
UK ESPON Contact Point
ESPON 2002-2006
Getting data – a major challenge in ESPON
ESPON 2006 concentrated
on getting and mapping
comparable data for all
29 countries and
producing indicators.
Time series data was a
particular problem.
ESPON produced
snapshots of Europe
based on the most recent
data available at NUTS 2
and NUTS3 level.
Key findings from ESPON 2006
• Europe’s highly developed ”core” was spreading
along development corridors;
• There were some regions outside the core that
perform well on measures of competitiveness –
e.g. in Scandinavia.
• There was strong growth in the capital city
regions of the states that joined the EU in 2004
– this aids cohesion at the EU level, but the gap
between these regions and other regions in
these states was widening.
ESPON and Territorial Cohesion
• ESPON research
was used in
Cohesion Green
Paper (2008).
• Also in the Third,
Fourth and Fifth
Cohesion Reports.
The Territorial Agenda of the EU
• ESPON 2006 provided information for the
document “The Territorial State and
Perspectives of the EU” that was published in
2007 and informed the “Territorial Agenda of
the EU” that was agreed that same year by
ministers for spatial development from the
member states.
• ESPON 2013 similarly shaped the updates of
these two documents in 2011.
The main criticism of ESPON 2006
“Many planning
practitioners found it
hard to understand the
impact on their daily
planning activities”
The scale was too
broad for most
ESPON 2013
• As in ESPON 2006,
the 2013 programme
conducts research on
a pan-European level,
now covering 31
countries and also the
Western Balkans and
• These “Applied
Research” projects
include work on cities
and on climate
Other Applied Research projects
Amongst other 2013 Applied Research projects in
which UK universities are partners in the TPG are:
• Knowledge, Innovation & Territory (LSE and
Cardiff University);
• Secondary Growth Poles & Territorial
Development in Europe (led by Liverpool John
Moores University);
• European Seas and Territorial Development
(University of Liverpool); and
• Attractiveness of European Regions & Cities
(University of the West of England).
UK case studies
Many of the Applied Research projects include
case studies of UK regions. For example:
• North Yorkshire features in the DEMIFER
project. The case study explores patterns of
migration in the region.
• Glasgow and its relationship with its hinterland
are in the FOCI project.
• London is being looked at as an example of a
world city in the project on the Territorial
Impact of Globalization on European Regions.
EDORA – A UK-led 2013 Applied Research
Looked at diverse rural
regions with differing
Rural areas no longer
synonymous with
towns are important for
rural development.
Depopulation and aging
in remote rural regions.
Targeted analyses and user demand
Stakeholders involved in:
• Definition of the project
• Selection of the TPG
• Steering the research
• Provision of information
• Application of the output
• Dissemination of results
ESPON pays the research costs - stakeholders cover
only their personnel and travel costs.
CAEE - A UK-led targeted analysis project
CAEE: The case for agglomeration economies in
Lead Partner: Greater Manchester Commission for
Economic Development, Employment and Skills
Others partners: Dublin, Barcelona, Lyon
Research by University of Manchester
Other Targeted Analysis projects with a UK
• The Potential of Rural Regions (PURR) has 3 UK
stakeholders – North Yorkshire, Dumfries &
Galloway and the Welsh Assembly Government.
• London South Bank University are in the
research team working on this project.
• The RISE project is about developing regional
integrated strategies. Birmingham City Council
is the UK stakeholder. The University of
Birmingham is in the research team.
• In ESPON 2006 there was a major project that
explored Spatial Scenarios for Europe,
comparing patterns for differing policy
emphases on cohesion or competition.
• Several of the Applied Research projects have
developed scenarios to explore the implications
for different regions and parts of Europe of
trends or policy choices.
• A new over-arching project on scenarios begins
in 2012.
Territorial Impact Assessment
ESPON has led the field
in developing
assessments of the
territorial impacts of EU
The TIPTAP project
developed a
methodology and
applied it to Transport
policy and the Common
Agricultural Policy.
Later ESPON TIA work
Later work in ESPON 2013 on Territorial Impact
Assessment has sought to build a more
qualitative and easy to use methodology that can
be used by practitioners to do ex-ante
assessments that would anticipate impacts of
policies while they are still being formulated. In
contrast the work in ESPON 2006 and in TIPTAP
was retrospective.
Such approaches could be linked into EU Impact
Assessment or used at national or regional level.
ARTS and ETIA are examples of these projects.
ESPON’s Scientific Platform
• ESPON has also built a database.
• It is producing an on-line Atlas that will allow
inter-active use.
• It has developed a typology of regions
• There is a project on Indicators of Territorial
Cohesion (INTERCO).
• The RTPI is leading
the work on the
• The project partners
are ECPs in Belgium,
Bulgaria, Greece,
Ireland, Italy, Poland,
Romania and
• It has produced
materials on using
ESPON in the UK.
Key reports from ESPON 2013
ESPON UK Network
• Set up by RTPI – but you can join it even if you
are not an RTPI member. Visit
• It includes updates and news of ESPON and
provides opportunities to exchange ideas and
• It’s free – but you have to register to become a
• Contact [email protected] or ring +44(0)20
7929 9496.
• The main ESPON website is