Territorial cohesion

Since 1986, the objective of cohesion policy has been to strengthen economic and social cohesion. The Lisbon Treaty and the EU's new high-level strategy (Europe 2020) introduce a third dimension: territorial cohesion.

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This topic has been under discussion since the early 1990's, and with each new country that joins the EU, the need to pay attention to the evolution of the European territory becomes more acute.

Main issues

How can we:

  • capitalise on the strengths of each territory so they can best contribute to the sustainable and balanced development of the EU as a whole?
  • manage concentration? Cities have both positive and negative impacts - intensifying innovation and productivity at the same time as pollution and social exclusion.
  • better connect territories? People should be able to live wherever they want, with access to public services, efficient transport, reliable energy networks and broadband internet throughout the territory.
  • develop cooperation? The effects of climate change and traffic congestion do not stop at traditional administrative borders, so new forms of cooperation are needed between countries and regions. The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the EU Strategy for the Danube Region are examples of new, macro-regional approach.
  • Foster Urban-Rural linkages

The Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion pdf (2008) launched a wide consultation process which continues today with regular gatherings of experts from all over Europe. Territorial cohesion will be an integral part of cohesion policy from 2013.

How could cohesion policy improve territorial cohesion in future?

  • by promoting a functional approach to integrated development of territories as spaces where citizens live their lives
  • by fostering place-based policies en through cross-sectoral coordination of policies and multi-level governance from local to European
  • by encouraging cooperation between territories to strengthen European integration
  • by improving knowledge of territories, to guide their development

Background documents

  • European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) pdf en
  • Territorial Agenda of the EU. Towards a more competitive and sustainable Europe of diverse regions, 25 May 2007 pdf en
  • First Action Programme for the Implementation of the Territorial Agenda of the European Union, 23 November 2007 pdf en - Annex pdf en
  • Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion Turning territorial diversity into strength pdf en
  • Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion, the way ahead, Panorama Magazine, December 2008 pdf en
  • Sixth progress report on economic and social cohesion pdf en
  • Territorial Cohesion under the Looking Glass - Synthesis paper pdf en
  • "Territorial cohesion: unleashing the territorial potential" Background Document to the Conference on Cohesion Policy and Territorial Development: Make Use of the Territorial Potential! 10-11 December 2009, Kiruna, Sweden pdf en
  • The territorial State and Perspectives of the European Union, 2011 update pdf en
  • Territorial Agenda of the European Union 2020 pdf en
  • Background paper : "How to strengthen the territorial dimension of 'Europe 2020' and EU Cohesion Policy based on the Territorial Agenda 2020" pdf en
  • Territorial Agenda 2020 put in practice - Enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of Cohesion Policy by a place-based approach en