Towards a renewed territorial agenda for the EU

On 31st March 2020 European Parliament Think Tank published a briefing that has been drafted at the request of a member of the Committee of the Regions, under the Cooperation Agreement between Parliament and the Committee. The document has been prepared by the EPRS – European Parliamentary Research Service. Author: Christiaan van Lierop; Members’ Research Service PE 649.355 – March 2020.


The main objective of the territorial agenda is to strengthen territorial cohesion, an EU principle that seeks to ensure the balanced development of the EU and reduce its regional disparities. Agreed in May 2011 and the culmination of a process begun many years earlier with the European Spatial Development Perspective, the Territorial Agenda 2020 is currently being revised with a view to establishing a continued role for this initiative within the EU’s new cohesion policy framework beyond 2020. Aimed at ensuring the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy in line with the principle of territorial cohesion, the Territorial Agenda 2020 strives to promote the integration of the territorial dimension across many different policies.

To deliver on this ambition, it has established an action- oriented political framework based around six territorial priorities and a series of implementation mechanisms to make EU territorial cohesion a reality. However, with the territorial agenda a low political priority in past years, implementation has remained weak, while the process itself has been beset by challenges, such as fragile intergovernmental cooperation and a low level of awareness. This situation has been compounded by the complex and abstract nature of the territorial agenda, making it difficult to communicate its aims and objectives. Set up in 2018 during the Austrian Presidency, an intergovernmental taskforce is currently leading the work on the renewal of the territorial agenda, the aim being to conclude the process under the German Presidency, with the signing of a 2030 territorial agenda in December 2020.

A draft version of the territorial agenda was published in December 2019, underpinned by two overarching priorities, a ‘just Europe’ and a ‘green Europe’, establishing a clear link with the European Commission’s current priorities and its strategy for sustainable growth, the European Green Deal. While thisstructure could well help embed the territorial agenda more firmly within the EU’s policy- making system, increasing its relevance and improving its visibility, the ongoing coronavirus crisis looks set to overshadow these discussions in the coming months.

You can read the full document here:


Launched in the frame of the 15th European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussel, the Cohesion Alliance has been designed to be the strongest and most effective cohesion policy for all regions, beyond 2020. On October 11th, over 150 high-level representatives of the European territorial associations, regional policy practitioners and experts, discussed the further steps to take for enhancing the Cohesion Alliance which currently is worth one-third of the EU budget. (more…)

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