European Observation Network, Territorial Development and Cohesion


ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme

The revised version of the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme was adopted on the 26 May 2016 by the European Commission

The ESPON 2020 Programme aims at promoting and fostering a European territorial dimension in development and cooperation by providing evidence, knowledge transfer and policy learning to public authorities and other policy actors at all levels.


ESPON 2020 shall continue the consolidation of a European Territorial Observatory Network and grow the provision and policy use of pan-European, comparable, systematic and reliable territorial evidence.

Main objectives

The objective of the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme is to support the reinforcement of the effectiveness of EU Cohesion Policy and other sectoral policies and programmes under European Structural Investment (ESI) funds as well as national and regional territorial development policies, through the production, dissemination and promotion of territorial evidence covering the entire territory of the 28 EU Members States, as well as 4 Partner States of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Target Groups

Primary target groups are:

  • European policymakers, in particular in the field of Cohesion Policy as well as other relevant sectoral and thematic policies and programmes, particularly those currently not fully articulating their territorial approach.
  • National policymakers and practitioners responsible for territorial cohesion, ETC programmes, macro-regional strategies and Cohesion Policy preparation and implementation at national level, as well as other relevant policy fields.
  • Authorities implementing ESI Funding programmes and preparing periodical reporting.
  • Regional and local policymakers and practitioners responsible for territorial development and planning and/or involved in cross-border, transnational and macro-regional cooperation.

As secondary target groups, the following actors are important as receivers and users of territorial evidence:

  • Organisations promoting different regional/urban interests at EU level.
  • University academics, both researchers and students as future decision makers.
  • The private sector and wider European audiences.

As the providers of the research capacity and scientific excellence for ESPON 2020, academics, scientists and researchers are important for ESPON 2020 outputs. Indirectly, the actions and corresponding activities of ESPON 2020 will therefore benefit the scientific community within Europe in the field of territorial research.

Priority Axes of ESPON 2020

In order to fulfil the strategy, mission and objectives related to the ESPON 2020 Programme, two Priority Axes will govern the programme implementation:

  • Priority Axis 1: Territorial Evidence, Transfer, Observation, Tools and Outreach
  • Priority Axis 2: Technical Assistance (TA)

The organisation of the programme implementation along two Priority Axes is closely related to the establishement of a Single Beneficiary, the ESPON EGTC, for the implementation of Priority Axis 1 of the ESPON 2020 Programme.

Priority Axis 1 covers a single thematic objective of the ETC Regulation and will deliver in relation to the Investment Priority: Institutional capacity and an efficient public administration.

Specific Objectives

The five specific objectives that will guide the implementation of the ESPON 2020 Programme are:

  • Specific Objective 1: Enhanced production of territorial evidence through applied research and analyses.
  • Specific Objective 2: Upgraded knowledge transfer and use of analytical user support.
  • Specific Objective 3: Improved territorial observation and tools for territorial analyses.
  • Specific Objective 4: Wider outreach and uptake of territorial evidence.
  • Specific Objective 5: Leaner, and more effective and efficient implementation provisions and more proficient programme assistance.


48,678,851.00 €; EU contribution: 41,377,019.00 €

In addition, the ESPON 2020 Programme receives a support of 1,850,000.00 € from the 4 Partner States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

Managing Authority

Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure Department of Spatial Planning and Development (DATER), Division for European Affairs

4, Place de l'Europe

L-2946 Luxembourg

Tel: +352 247-86934

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Further information

European Commission, Press Release 13 February 2015 "Boost for better spending of EU Cohesion Policy investments"