KREMER - the Territorial Thinkers' Blog

KREMER is a platform where proponents of  territorial thinking and a territorial approach to European and  transnational policy development can express their opinions, ideas, recommendations and personal thoughts on this many-sided and complex subject. The postings on KREMER are, of course, the opinion of the individual author(s).


The aim of the KREMER blog is twofold:

  • to bring the knowledge and insight of experts across to the broader group of territorially relevant policy-makers, and
  • to stimulate debate and cross-fertilization of innovative ideas for place-sensitive policy development between such experts and policy-makers.


Your contribution to KREMER could be a reaction on one of the Territorial Thinker Briefings or a ‘stand-alone’ blog on a territorially relevant issue you find particularly important or insufficiently exposed. You are invited to send your contribution, which should be between 600-800 words, please do contact us.


KREMER refers to Gerard de Kremer, a Flemish cartographer, geographer and cosmographer, better known as Mercator for creating the 1569 world map based on a new projection.

November 2021 - The EU long-term vision for rural areas




by Peter Mehlbye, Kai Böhme, Derek Martin & Peter Schön


This summer, the European Commission initiated an EU Long-term Vision for Rural Areas. The process is borne by a cooperation between DG Regio and DG Agri and involves dialogue between the related institutions and political player. The long-term Vision for Rural Areas is a much welcome step forward and extremely useful for certain types of rural areas, probably in particular remote and less-developed ones. However, looking towards 2040, it would be of far greater value for the EU to see rural areas as an integral part of a more comprehensive long-term vision for the entire EU territory.



September 2021 - A rightful place for territorial cohesion

by Derek Martin & Peter Schön


At all but the local level, it has always been quite difficult to find a logical place for ‘spatial planning’ – or preferably ‘spatial or territorial development’ – in any administration. The higher the governance level, the more difficult it is to organise territorial development administratively into a coherent and well-coordinated policy.


Given the character of territorial cohesion, it is important that there is a distinct movement towards improving the governance of territorial cohesion within the Commission. Improving territorial cohesion, in the broadest sense of the word, appears to be one of the most crucial cross-sectoral aims for the future of the EU. It is not overstated to say that the future success or failure of European integration largely depends on this question.



July 2021 - Re-thinking territorial cohesion

A response to the discussion on radical ideas about territorial cohesion

by Peter Mehlbye

The political reality for territorial cohesion is not easy. The challenge will be to convince influential policy makers that the EU will need and benefit from a makeover, re-think and strengthening of territorial cohesion.

As a radical re-thinking of cohesion policy and the territorial cohesion in the future is ambitious in many ways, it should be considered to carry-through a broad European reflection process. This would probably bring new ideas to the table and at the same time support a consensus building that later would benefit implementation. Such a Europe-wide reflection process should ideally be started by the European Commission, ideally urged by the Council, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, etc.


May 2021 - The European territory risks falling apart

The EU needs to be clear and visionary on cohesion

by Peter Mehlbye & Kai Böhme

Cohesion – be it economic, social or territorial – is the glue that prevents the EU from falling apart. Cohesion is mentioned in the Treaty as one of the main objectives of the EU. All policy areas and policy makers involved at all administrative levels, European, national, regional and local, should contribute and strive towards this aim, in good and in bad times.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates pre-existing tendencies of disintegration in Europe, between territories, member states and groups of society. It deepens territorial inequalities and imbalances and the divide between rich and poor. These trends pointing in the wrong direction is a serious challenge to the future of Europe. Without the EU reviewing and clearly formulating its long-term aspirations for cohesion and how to deliver on it, the EU and its territory risks falling apart.


April 2021 - ERASMUS Sabbatical

A proposal on how to bring Europe back to its citizens

by Kai Böhme

Europe, the European idea is in trouble. The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis which has cast new shadows over the EU. It is a crisis which hardly is been used as an opportunity to step back, reflect and change direction. What can Europe do to change this? What can Europe do to turn the boat around? Could Europe stimulate people’s adventuresomeness to explore other parts of the EU not just for holidays and student exchanges?

Throwing a tiny stone in the discussion, here comes a proposal for an ERASMUS Sabbatical to which any EU citizen can apply. Offering any EU-citizen older than 25 to spend one year paid in another EU country. 


October 2020 - Territorial dimensions of Brexit

Territorial dimension of Brexit

by Cliff Hague

Much has been written about Brexit. Surprisingly little has been written about it from a territorial perspective. Nor has Brexit attracted as much attention as might have been expected from territorial researchers across Europe. Following the referendum, there was no major European conference of territorial researchers to analyse what was certainly the most significant territorial event since the enlargement of the Union back in 2004.


August 2020 - COVID-19 and the EU territory

Insights to support necessary policy innovation

by Peter Schön and Peter Mehlbye

The COVID-19 pandemic has differentiated territorial impacts and affects cities, towns and countryside and their inhabitants. It has not only revealed differences in living conditions for people and between places but contributes also to further differentiation of societies. The political answers to shape post-COVID Europe have to take this social and territorial differentiation into account.

Drawing on the Territorial Thinker’s Briefing 7, Peter Schön and Peter Mehlbye share their insights on trends as well as ideas and a mindset for policy makers that could support this necessary process of policy innovation.


July 2020 - The EU Recovery Plan

A budget without a vision risks to increase inequalities


A guest contribution by Christian Lüer and Kai Böhme

The historic EU budget deal risks widening the economic and social gap in Europe. The EU needs a common vision more urgently than the trillion-euro package.

EU leaders have made history by agreeing on a recovery plan to combat the effects of the corona pandemic. This can already be said today, although the European Parliament's approval is still pending and resistance on certain points is to be expected. Joint debts and the financial volume of the 1.8 trillion-euro package consisting of the recovery plan and the next multi-annual financial framework alone represent a milestone in the process of European integration. Ultimately, however, its success will be measured by its actual impact. The main question is whether and how quickly European economies will get back on their feet. Behind this, there is also the question of the spatial dimension. Which cities and regions will recover quickly, and which will continue to struggle with recovery for many years?


May 2020 - Territorialising smart specialisation. Guest contribution by the Friends of Smart Specialisation

Territorialising smart specialisation

A guest contribution by the Friends of Smart Specialisation

One of the key features of successful regional innovation ecosystems is their ability to conceive and implement smart specialisation strategies. If applied wisely, smart specialisation can help enable cohesion policy to increase its effectiveness. This implies finding the correct balance between achieving the benefits of scale and scope for pan-European challenges while reflecting local circumstances and priorities. Such is the underlying message of smart specialisation. However, there has been much less thinking on the territorial impacts of smart specialisation and the blog calls for a widening of smart specialisation to include the territorial dimension.


May 2020 - For Europe’s future, territory matters

Reflections 70 years after the Schumann Declaration

For 70 years, the gradual process of ever-stronger interdependence, integration, and ‘give and take’ collaboration, has evolved and developed constructively. However, recently, this process has started to falter. The EU faces its biggest crisis. This crisis represents both a challenge and a great opportunity for the European idea. The question is, how do we embrace the opportunity and adapt the EU to face the post-crisis period and bring Europe more into the hearts and minds of the majority of its citizens?


To address this challenge and embrace the opportunity, two fundamental things have to change:

  • EU policies need to become ‘place-sensitive’, i.e. they need to get away from ‘one-size-fits-all’ and take on board the specificities of the areas/regions they are directed towards in a broader territorial perspective;
  • EU governance has to involve local and regional authorities more directly.

Read more

March 2020 - Territory matters in times of corona

Spatial reflections on a disruptive challenge

by Kai Böhme

“Territory matters” has got a new meaning these days, as do some other spatial planning and regional development concepts. The following is a brief reflection on what the corona virus does to us in territorial policy terms, such as disruptive innovation, territorial interdependencies, administrative borders, spatial and societal fragmentation, place-based approaches, sustainable land-use or digitalisation.

How all this will affect spatial development and policy making in the years to come deserves close attention and a lot of interesting and hopefully stimulating discussions. What will be the lasting territorial impacts of changing societal preferences, behaviours and economic activities?



January 2020 - The European Green Deal and Just Transition Mechanism and their territorial dimension

Reflections on an incoming major policy shift in Europe

by Kai Böhme

In January 2020, the European Commission presented its proposal for the European Green Deal Investment Plan and the Just Transition Mechanism. Many details of which will be further developed and polished in the near future.

Still, the proposal is remarkable from a territorial point of view.It fuels some optimism that the need for territorial thinking finally has hit home in European policies. The current proposal gives hope, that we will have an overarching policy, that is highly place-sensitive, rather anticipatory to local and regional development challenges, supports an integrated governance and acknowledges the importance of territorial development plans and the interdependencies between places. If all this territorial thinking is followed through, the transition of Europe to a thriving carbon-neutral society and prosperous economy might actually work out.


December 2019 - Rural truth(s)? A guest contribution by Kaisa Lähteenmäki-Smith

Rural truth(s)?

A guest contribution by Kaisa Lähteenmäki-Smith

As Finland contemplates its future development in light of its declining birth-rate, ageing population and low immigration, questions reverberate around future perspectives and aspirations in respect of the ability of public policy to impact these developments. The shrinking workforce and the growing number of retired people provide a potentially significant challenge. To promote a positive message in the circumstances of negative messages being the norm takes courage. Tytti Määttä, Mayor of Kuhmo, a municipality on the Finnish-Russian border, and Finland's most influential spokesperson for rural areas, recently published an excellent column "Vitality to the countryside with a five-point programme". With Tytti’s permission, I will paraphrase and build on her points here (relating to the rural areas) and consider them in the broader perspective of the good life in shrinking regions. I think they provide excellent reminders and positive encouragement and motivation for us all, whether speaking of Finland, or anywhere else.


May 2019 - What does ‘slowbalisation’ mean for intra European flows and cooperation?

While the economic leaders discussed globalisation 4.0 at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, we might actually see that globalisation has peaked. In the issue of 26th of January 2019, the Economist outlined that globalisation slows down markedly, and that we might enter a period of ‘slowbalisation’ with lesser global integration. In short, ‘slowbalisation’ is expected to be a shift towards geo-regional blocs (e.g. Asia, North-America, Europe), with deeper intra-regional links and shorter supply chains.


April 2019 - Unity on the development of the EU territory

While the world is turning and rapidly growing ever more interdependent, European political leaders are engaged in discussions leading to break-up (Brexit) and less commitment to European unity (in particular Hungary, Poland and Italy). Some leaders, like president Macron in France, try to pull in the opposite direction by advocating a revival of the European cooperation. The size and influence of the EU in the world should in fact in times of globalisation lead everyone to opt for a strong and united EU.

One policy area has hitherto slipped the attention of EU leaders, this despite (nearly) all policies and activities have a territorial impact. They take place somewhere, changes the space and the place specific conditions for people and enterprises.