The Cooperation Programme

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General objective

The main objective of the ESPON 2020 Programme (see the brochure/leaflet of the Programme) is to support the reinforcement of the effectiveness of the EU Cohesion Policy and other sectoral policies and programmes co-funded by the 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 EU Members States, as well as the 4 Partner States Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.


The ESPON 2020 Programme is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with a contribution of 41 377 019 € (85% of the total budget) for the period 2014-2020.

Priority Axes

ERDF contribution (85 %)

National contribution (15%)


Priority Axis 1: Territorial Evidence, Transfer, Observation, Tools and Outreach

39 276 145 €

6 931 089 €

46 207 234 €

Priority Axis 2: Technical Assistance (TA)

2 100 874 €

370 743 €

2 471 617€


41 377 019 €

7 301 832 €

48 678 851 €

In addition, the ESPON 2020 Programme receives a support of 1 850 000 € from its 4 Partner States Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Target Groups

Fulfilling its overall mission and objectives, the primary target groups for receiving and using the ESPON 2020 Programme territorial evidence are policymakers at all levels:

  • 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 stakeholders 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.

Geographical coverage

With reference to the Article 3 (5) of the Regulation (EU) No 1299/2013 interregional cooperation programmes shall cover the entire EU territory. For the period 2014-2020 the ESPON 2020 Programme will cover the territory of all 28 EU Member States.

Moreover, as per the previous ESPON 2013 Programme, the geographical coverage of the 4 Partner States of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland is maintained.

Priority Axis

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

  • Priority Axis 1: Territorial Evidence, Transfer, Observation, Tools and Outreach: Priority Axis 1 is implemented through a Single Operation. The ESPON Managing Authority has commissioned the Single Beneficiary, the ESPON EGTC, established as part of the renewal of ESPON as a bespoke vehicle to undertake this implementation.
  • Priority Axis 2: Technical Assistance (TA): The ESPON Managing Authority, the Ministry for Energy and Spatial Planning in Luxembourg, will implement this Priority Axis.

Specific Objectives

The Cooperation Programme is built around the following five specific objectives:

  • Specific Objective 1: Enhanced European territorial evidence production through applied research and analyses.

  • Specific Objective 2: Upgraded knowledge transfer and use of analytical 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, more effective and efficient implementation provisions and more proficient programme assistance.

Single Beneficiary

Under the ESPON 2020 Programme, a European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) has been selected to implement the Single Operation. The ESPON EGTC is the Single Beneficiary of the ESPON 2020 Programme.

How to benefit from and participate in the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme?

The ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme is implemented through a Single Operation approved by the Monitoring Committee on 20 November 2015 which will deliver the activities and outputs foreseen under the Priority Axis 1 of the Programme and that is implemented by the ESPON EGTC.

The knowledge base on territorial development developed via the implementation of the Single Operation will be made freely available to all stakeholders and target groups of the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme through the ESPON website.

The ESPON EGTC will consult regularly policymakers and practitioners to identify their particular policy demands and evidence needs and, for instance, launch calls for proposals to gather ideas for targeted analysis and thematic articles. In addition the ESPON EGTC will propose tailor-made policy papers, seminars and workshops and give online access to an extensive number of web-based tools for territorial development.

For a more direct participation in the activities implemented by the ESPON EGTC, please check regularly the ESPON website.

The scientific community within Europe in the field of territorial research can be part of the knowledge production by participating in the public procurement procedures launched by the ESPON EGTC. Procurement procedures are published on both the Luxembourg Public Procurement Portal and TED (Tenders Electronic Daily), which is the 'Supplement to the Official Journal of the EU ("OJ S"), dedicated to European public procurement. As soon as call for tenders are publicly notified, they will also be announced on the ESPON website.

Programme Approval

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

The ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme was adopted by the European Commission on 12 February 2015.

"Please find out more information on the evaluation and on the open consultation of the ESPON 2020 Cooperation Programme under the 'sous-rubriques' (sub-sections) below."

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