Handbook: Towards Better Territorial Governance in Europe

A guide for practitioners, policy and decision makers (PDF) based on contributions from the ESPON TANGO Project

Policy context of a guide to better territorial governance in Europe

Europe is still in recovery from a deep financial crisis and is struggling with unemployment and social exclusion. At the same time, it must switch to a low carbon economy and adapt to climate changes that are already underway. Responding to these daunting tasks requires effective and urgent policy initiatives and actions at European, national, regional and local levels as well as across different policy sectors. This is well recognised in the EU growth strategy for the coming decade, known as “Europe 2020”, and aimed at making the EU a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy.

The so called “place based approach” described in the Barca Report and good governance with a strong adaptive capacity are critical factors to address the agenda set in the Europe 2020 strategy. The Barca Report explains that a place based approach to development policies “refers both to the context dependent nature of the efficiency and equity problems that the policy deals with, and to the fact that the design of integrated interventions must be tailored to places, since it largely depends on the knowledge and preferences of people living in it”.

The growing importance of territorial governance to achieve further territorial cohesion was discussed in the “Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion”. It is further reflected in the Territorial Agenda of the European Union 2020 from 2011 and the NTCCP (Network of Territorial Cohesion Contact Points) report from 2013, both of which call for a place based, territorially sensitive and integrated approach to policies, to improve the performance of actions on all levels and create synergies between different types of policy interventions.

Similarly, the legislative proposals set up for the EU cohesion policy period 2014-20 envisage a Common Strategic Framework (CSF) that has to be implemented through the principles of “partnership and multi level governance“ to meet the territorial challenges of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Better territorial governance is thus needed for a place based cohesion policy that can contribute to a better Europe.