Aims and approach

Territorial Thinkers is an independent platform of experts, highly experienced in European, national, regional and local policy development with a territorial dimension. Territorial Thinkers aim to support on-going policy development processes by presenting arguments, evidence, ideas, options and recommendations to policy makers. Territorial Thinkers are convinced from experience that a clear territorial dimension in policy conception and in programme strategies and implementation releases a new innovative and cooperative dynamism which should be captured and used positively to achieve European policy objectives.


As EU policy developed during the late ‘80s and ‘90s as a result of major new impulses such as the Single Market and increasing environmental consciousness, so too did the realisation that there was a territorial dimension to that policy. Regional policy, trans-European networks and several environmental policies were by nature inherently territorial. In addition, there was a need to ‘territorially coordinate’ increasing European investments and avoid, for example, environmental and industrial or infrastructural investments becoming conflictual in the same area.

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The idea is to bring together the experience and insights of ‘out-of-the-box’ territorial thinkers to discuss important and relevant matters, and present rational and sharp arguments for a stronger territorial dimension of European policy-making.

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Territorial Tunes

In short briefing papers the territorial thinkers offer some reflections to stimulate further debate.

TT 1 - How to boost integrated territorial development in future programmes

This Territorial Thinkers' Briefing of October 2018 addresses the proposed EC regulations, the Common Provisions Regulation (CRP), and the two regulations governing ERDF and European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) after 2020. The Territorial Thinkers advocate the strengthening of the strategic, territorial dimension in the proposed regulative framework by providing concrete proposals and recommendations for the current debate on how to release additional development potential, more efficient investment spending and more European integration from territorial strategies, coordination and cooperation in ESIF programmes after 2020.

Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2018:01.

TT 2 - More territorial cooperation post 2020

This Territorial Thinkers' Briefing makes a contribution to the ongoing debate on Cohesion Policy post 2020. It argues that territorial cooperation is mature to go beyond Interreg and become a priority also in national and regional ESIF programmes. Putting more emphasis on territorial cooperation within functional areas - of various size and characteristics - in all ESIF activities can release additional development potential, more efficient investment spending and more European integration. The brief presents both arguments for more territorial cooperation and concrete proposals how to strengthen territorial cooperation in Cohesion Policy post 2020.

Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2018:02.

TT 3 - Towards a European Territorial Agenda post 2020

This Territorial Thinkers’ Briefing argues that dealing more explicitly and emphatically with the territorial dimension of EU policies is not an option but a necessity requiring concrete measures and actions. In this light, the revision of the Territorial Agenda 2020 into a post 2020, longer-term strategy on how to respond to this necessity is an important and urgent proposal. This Briefing from Territorial Thinkers aims at supporting this initiative by providing many suggestions and ideas, some almost inevitable, some more ambitious and ‘out of the box’ than others, but all worth reflecting upon.

Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2018:03.