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[Event review] ESPON Seminar: A world without borders Refugees, cooperation and territories

This ESPON seminar has represented an important opportunity for the ESPON EGTC to get engaged in discussions with policymakers, practitioners and scientists about their need for territorial evidence. In this context, the EGTC took up three policy themes as for instance the European macro-regional strategies and announced the call for tenders for applied research activities. The event took place in louxembourg on 8-9 December 2015.

  • Posted on: 25.01.2016
  • Luxembourg

Website: Link

156 people, including policy makers, practitioners, scientists and experts were welcomed by the general director of the Luxembourgish Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, Frank Vansteenkiste.

The seminar was an important opportunity for the ESPON EGTC to engage stakeholders in discussions about their need for territorial evidence. In this context the following three policy themes were taken up by the event:

  • Territorial aspects of refugee migration to Europe;

Heinz Faβmann, University of Vienna, opened this session with a speech on the current European asylum crisis. This was followed by a brief presentation of the ESPON policy brief on the territorial and urban aspects of the migration and refugee inflow, given by Sandra Di Biaggio, ESPON EGTC. Subsequently, a panel of scientists and stakeholders engaged in a lively discussion about the likely implications of the ongoing refugee migration for European regions and cities.

It was concluded, among others, that it is important to consider tipping points, to share good practice experiences among cities and regions and to increase cooperation between towns, cities and regions, also across borders and transnationally.

  • Cross-border cooperation (what can ESPON do to support?)

The second slot of the seminar was dedicated to one of the priorities of the Luxembourgish presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Alfonso Alcolea Martinez, Committee of the Regions, kicked-off the slot with a key note speech on the significance of cross-border cooperation and the need for territorial evidence. Peter Mehlbye, ESPON EGTC, then recapped which evidence ESPON had already created on cross-border issues in the past. Marianne Guérois, UMS RIATE, presented her work on filling data gaps in border regions, an issue that is commonly considered as a challenge. A panel of stakeholders and a scientist then discussed the need for territorial evidence for fostering cross-border cooperation.

Panellists agreed that apart from data also visions were needed for cross-border cooperation and that citizens need to be involved in cross-border policy set up. Furthermore, it was mentioned, among others, that finer-grained data is necessary for cross-border work and that NUTS3 data is not detailed enough in this context.

  • ESPON territorial monitoring for European macro-regions

he second day of the seminar started with a dedicated slot on macro-regional strategies and here particularly an innovation in the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme, which offers the opportunity to macro-regions to develop custom-made territorial monitoring systems for them.

Andrea Mairate, DG Regional and Urban Policy, opened the slot with a key note speech on macro-regions, the development of macro-regional strategies and the possible contribution of ESPON to the development and implementation of the latter. Sandra Di Biaggio, ESPON EGTC, then gave an overview on the functions of the Baltic Sea Region territorial monitoring system, which was developed in the framework of the ESPON 2013 Programme. Subsequently, representatives of the four different European macro-regions and a scientist discussed the need for territorial evidence by macro-regions.

In the course of this lively discussion it was mentioned, among others, that evidence provision is actually not enough but that thorough discussion of such evidence is also needed. Faciliation and communication were considered important avenues to follow in this context. Furthermore, there was a request for ESPON to also look at governance processes in macro-regions and to provide guidance in this field.

Implementation of the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme

To round off, the audience was informed about the future implementation of the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme.

Andrea Mairate, DG Regional and Urban Policy, presented in a nutshell the expectations of the European Commission in relation to the evidence production by ESPON. Michaela Gensheimer, ESPON EGTC, then informed about the recently opened first call for tenders for applied research activities. Peter Mehlbye, ESPON EGTC, gave a broader outlook on the planned activities until the end of 2016.

Finally, the Luxembourgish Presidency reflected upon the outcome of its term and the future two EU Presidency countries, the Netherlands and Slovakia, gave an outlook on their ambitions.


More information

You can find below the programme of the event, practical information, list of participants, presentations, ESPON Policy Brief "Territorial and urban aspects of migration and refugee inflow".

More photos here.

Please don’t hesitate to contact ESPON (info@espon.eu) should you need further information.

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S&T field/scope: General | Affilation and Pillar: Key stakeholders, Research and innovation community, Policy Dialogue | Geographical focus: Danube Region, EU Member States

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