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ESPON (European Spatial Planning Observation Network)
ESPON is an applied research programme aimed at supporting the formulation of territorial development policies in Europe. To this end, the programme produces wide-ranging and systematic data on territorial trends related to various economic, social and environmental aspects, with a view to identifying the potential of regions, cities and larger territories and the economic challenges they face.
ESPON activities cover all EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and involve more than 130 bodies across the continent. They conduct different kinds of studies (thematic, policy impact, cross-theme, scientific networking, capacity-building) and produce territorial data in the form of statistics, analyses and maps. One of the major challenges of ESPON therefore involves making this material accessible and understandable to local policy-makers. At EU level, the results of ESPON research efforts provide a source of comparable information that can be used to improve the Union's competitiveness and its sustainable development.