Europe has many different types of places, such as capital regions, metropolitan areas, small and medium-sized towns, peri-urban areas, rural areas, inner peripheries, peripheral areas, northernmost areas, sparsely populated areas, islands, coastal areas, mountainous areas, outermost regions, cross‑border regions, macro-regions, areas of demographic decline and areas in economic transformation and industrial transition. These have very different development potential and challenges. At all levels, from sub-local to pan-European, there are increasing economic and social disparities between places and between people along with environmental risks and pressures. These are driven by economies of scale, imbalanced access to markets and qualified labour, as well as disparities in quality of governance and public services. Furthermore, links and flows between places, especially along corridors, affect the possibilities to realise potential or respond to challenges.
The quality of government and governance processes is an important cross-cutting principle for local, regional, national and European development. It matters for the well-being of society and is a prerequisite for long-term sustainable increases in living standards, investments, social trust and political legitimacy.
People & places drift apart
There is need to act as people and places drift apart – increasing imbalances and inequalities, e.g. in the fields:
- Quality of life
- Services of general interest
- Demographic and societal imbalances
- Digitalisation and the 4th industrial revolution
- Employment and economic development
- Interdependencies between places
- Global embeddedness
There is need to respond to the increasing pressure concerning sustainable development and climate change, e.g. in the fields:
- Climate change
- Loss of biodiversity and land consumption
- Air, soil and water quality
- Secure, affordable and sustainable energy
- Just transition
- Circular value chains
- Nature, landscape and cultural heritage
In Europe, growing inequalities between places and between people as well as unsustainable developments have reached a critical level. Increased concerted action at all geographical and governance levels is needed to ensure positive future perspectives for all people, communities and places in Europe. It is time to better understand and adequately address territorial impacts of sector policies. We seek to contribute to sustainable development and to keeping Europe together by delivering on the following territorial priorities for Europe.