The ESPON 2013 Programme, the European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion, was adopted by the European Commission on 7 November 2007.
The programme budget of EUR 47 million is part-financed at the level of 75% by the European Regional Development Fund under Objective 3 for European Territorial Cooperation. The rest is financed by 31 countries participating, 27 EU Member States and Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The mission of the ESPON 2013 Programme is to support policy development in relation to the aim of territorial cohesion and a harmonious development of the European territory by (1) providing comparable information, evidence, analyses and scenarios on territorial dynamics and (2) revealing territorial capital and potentials for development of regions and larger territories contributing to European competitiveness, territorial cooperation and a sustainable and balanced development.
The ESPON 2013 Programme has carried through activities within five priorities at programme level, which reflect the programme strategy and overall objectives defined. The five programme priorities are the following:
- Applied research on different themes of European territorial dynamics is the core business, providing scientifically solid facts and evidence at the level of regions and cities. These results make it possible to assess strength and weaknesses of individual regions and cities in the European context. The applied research is conducted by transnational groups of researchers and experts.
- Targeted Analyses together with stakeholders is an important project type that makes use of ESPON results in practice. Stakeholders express their interest and ESPON provides a team of experts that carries through the analysis in close collaboration. Stakeholders then make use of the European perspective in results in policy considerations for their territorial context, in strategy development or other activities, that benefits development.
- Scientific Platform development is supported by an ESPON Database project and actions dealing with territorial indicators and monitoring as well as tools related to territorial analyses, typologies, modelling and updates of statistics.
- Capitalisation of ESPON results that includes media activities and different ESPON publications. Events such as ESPON Seminars and Workshops are regularly organised and a transnational effort in the capitalisation is ensured by a network of national ESPON Contact Points.
- Technical Assistance, Analytical Support and Communication ensure the sound management of the programme and the ability of processing scientific output towards the policy level.
The ESPON programme has a Monitoring Committee where all 31 countries involved in the programme have a seat.
Also a Concertation Committee has been established. Its role is to advice the Monitoring Committee on themes for Applied Research, Targeted Analysis and actions related to the Scientific Platform.
The Ministry of Interior and Spatial Development in Luxembourg, as the Managing Authority, has the responsibility for the implementation of the programme according to the Operational Programme.
The Coordination Unit supports the Management Authority in the programme implementation. It is in formal terms the joint technical secretariat of the programme. The Coordination Unit prepares the operational issues normally related to procedures and the financial management and control of projects.
A Certifying Authority has been established in the Ministry of Interior and Spatial Development in Luxembourg, in full independency of the Management Authority.
The role of Audit Authority envisaged is borne by the Ministry of Finance (ICF) in Luxembourg.