Territorial Briefings

In short briefing papers the territorial thinkers offer some reflections to stimulate further debate. The short paper dwell somwhat deeper on an issue to to support on-going policy development processes by presenting arguments, evidence, ideas, options and recommendations to policy makers.

No 11 - Territorial Cohesion: the new core of Cohesion Policy post-2027

In the Territorial Thinkers briefing 11, Peter Mehlbye Peter Schön, Derek Martin and Kai Böhme argue for making territorial cohesion the core of future Cohesion Policy post 2027.


There is a clear need to rethink and renew the concept of Cohesion Policy. The current approach has been used for decades (with some minor tweaks) and needs to be modernised to deliver efficient, cost effective and consistent policy interventions on the challenges and policy ambitions of today and tomorrow.


European policy in general and Cohesion Policy in particular would benefit substantially if territorial cohesion was very clearly articulated in future Cohesion Policy.


Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2023:11.

No 10 - Territorial Cohesion and performance-based financing

In the Territorial Thinkers briefing 10, Peter Schön, Kai Böhme, Peter Mehlbye and Derek Martin explore whether Cohesion Policy objectives, and specifically territorial cohesion, can be translated into performance-based financing schemes.


Faced with complex new major issues such as post-COVID recovery, the energy crisis and climate change, EU funding based on performance rather than on occurred costs is currently being tested in the context of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRP). Increasingly there are voices that advocate performance funding also for EU Cohesion Policy.


The EU might consider these more flexible and less bureaucratic forms and methods of financial support to implement its structural policies in the next term post-2027. What How could that look for territorial cohesion, or how could territorial cohesion and performance-based financing might come together?


Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2022:10.

No 9 - Suggestions on the 8th Cohesion Report

In the Territorial Thinkers briefing 9, Peter Mehlbye, Derek Martin, Peter Schön and Kai Böhme relfect on the recently published 8th Cohesion Report.


The 8th Cohesion Report is an important and welcome 'springboard' for developing cohesion policy further and debating new policy ideas. With a horizon of 30 years, this is a main target of the report.


A development strengthening territorial or place-based policy content within EU Cohesion Policy, and a more inclusive implementation (i.e. ensuring an effective regional/local say), would provide for a more targeted and efficient policy implementation and counter the current critics of cohesion policy being more about managing EU funds than creating desired, targeted, coordinated and coherent results on the ground.


Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2022:09.

No 8 - Territorial Agenda 2030: Seven additional suggestions for its implementation

In this Territorial Thinkers briefing 8, Peter Mehlbye, Derek Martin and Peter Schön discuss ideas on how to strenghten the implementation of the Territorial Agenda 2030.


On 1 December 2020, Ministers from EU Member States and some neighbouring countries, including Norway and Switzerland, in the presence of the responsible EU Commissioner and representatives from key European Institutions approved and presented an updated Territorial Agenda 2030 for the European Union – “A future for all places”.


The Territorial Agenda 2030 is a welcome update of earlier agendas, all of which were positive and well-intended documents aimed at developing a European territorial policy. However, the power of implementation and therefore effectiveness deserves more attention. To further back a dedicated and powerful implementation, the paper presents seven carefully drafted suggestions to policy makers at all levels involved in shaping the future for all places in the EU.


Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2021:08.

No 7 - COVID-19 pandemic: a lever for a more balanced and resilient EU territory?

In this Territorial Thinkers briefing 7, Peter Mehlbye and Peter Schön discuss the role the COVID-19 pandemic might play for a more balanced and resilient EU territory.


Irrespective of medical and pharmaceutical successes the SARS-CoV-2 virus will be with us for quite a while, and it needs ongoing political and societal answers to cope with it. The COVID-19 pandemic has differentiated territorial impacts and affects cities, towns and countryside and their inhabitants in different ways; the political answers to shape post-COVID Europe have to take this territorial differentiation into account.

The first six months of living with the SARS-CoV-2 virus spawned a large number of real experiments in society, economy, and politics, some of which will remain and bring forward further societal innovation. The key overall priority for forward-looking policies should be a more balanced, resilient and polycentric EU territory


Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2020:07.

No 6 - Territorial Inequality: a new priority for Europe

This Territorial Thinkers briefing 6 puts the case for place-sensitive policies and investments, and proposes policy recommendations on what more should be done to support Europe’s aim of better territorial cohesion.

Europe is in the front line of the problem of territorial inequality, as it is a major source of very many citizens turning their backs on Europe if nothing substantial and innovative is done in policy terms to halt and reverse this trend. What is more, the EU needs to adapt itself to ever more global political and economic interdependencies, become a major player promoting a European model for the digital future as well as a key global actor in combating climate change and ensuring a sustainable approach to the environment, etc. These fundamental challenges all have a strong territorial dimension.

Quite radical policy changes and initiatives at the European level are therefore unavoidable, including far more explicit and conscious attention to the territorial dimension, which until now has been generally overlooked by European policy makers. Not doing so will challenge the very aim of a more cohesive Europe.

Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2019:06.

No 5 - The Territorial fragmentation

This Territorial Thinkers briefing 5 explains what ‘territorial fragmentation’ is, why is it a real challenge at the heart of the European project and how EU policies could possibly be adapted to face that challenge.

Given the increasing divisions, diversity and disparities between different types of territories, territorial fragmentation has become a major and complex challenge throughout the whole of Europe. Territorial fragmentation is a challenge at the very heart of today´s challenges (e.g. related to shrinking cities and regions) and needs to be recognised as such if we want to avoid that areas turn away from Europe. Yet, paradoxically, it is a widely unknown, often misunderstood and largely unrecognised issue.

Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2019:05.

No 4 - The EU territory of tomorrow?

The idea of this Territorial Thinkers briefing 4 is to stimulate debate on the ‘EU territory of tomorrow’ ahead of, during and after the elections among the upcoming, new decision makers.

Possible answers to the key questions about the ‘EU territory of tomorrow’ need to be addressed and debated by politicians heading for a seat in the next European Parliament, candidates for the next EU Commission, the current Romanian and upcoming Croatian, Finnish and German EU Presidencies and, importantly, by regions and cities as the actual players implementing an integrated territorial approach.

It is the hope that politicians will take interest in the following more detailed arguments and messages of this TT Briefing 4 and embark in the political challenge of delivering an EU Territorial Reference Framework – a new long-term policy ambition for the EU territory.

Download the Territorial Thinkers' Briefing 2019:04.

No 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.

No 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.

No 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.