3 mins


As Europe experiences the second wave of the pandemic, this time spreading more evenly among the countries, the political debate focuses on the post-COVID era. The announcement for potential vaccine was followed by the agreement between the EU Council and the Parliament on the next MFF and the recovery mechanism. Is this a first light as we leave a catastrophic year behind?

The European Union, already before the pandemic, adopted a plan to revive the European economy while achieving its ambitious environmental goals. Given the extreme pressure that the pandemic puts on the economies and the health system, is it still possible for Europe to fight on two fronts?

Distinguished guests in TerritoriALL give their answer to these questions, stressing the need for more cohesion and coordinated action. State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Interior, Markus Kerberstates in his message that "the corona pandemic has once again shown that a collective Europe must be strong and crisis-proof". And President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli asks to "radically change our economic models, while ensuring a fair transition that is suitable for us and future generations".

COVID-19 is currently at the centre of our lives -and subsequently of our magazine. Our thematic dossier  explores the geography of the pandemic and offers new insights based on the findings of a new ESPON study that we present here for the first time. You can compare them with a relevant study of the Committee of the Regions  that we are also hosting. Roland Theis, State Secretary of Saarland in Germany, as well as contributors from Lombardy and Brussels Capital Region offer their analyses and their experiences from the responses at the local and regional level.

And Pavel Branda,rapporteur of the CoR on cross-border public services, highlights the cross-border dimension of the pandemic. Further, the interregional cooperation programmes of INTERREG Europe, URBACT and INTERACT,share their best practices on working together and learning from each other.

If COVID-19 is the question, then the recovery should be the answer. But for the regions that phase transition from coal, this answer is more complicated. A new ESPON Policy Brief on  "Structural change in coal phase-out regions" explores the different angles of the 'just' epithet and explores the challenges for the European regions. The rapporteur of the European Parliament, Manolis Kefalogiannis, presents his main arguments, while key stakeholders from the CzechRepublic, Germanyand Greeceoffer their views on policy responses.

Cooperation is the end line of any debate on the lessons learnt from the crisis. On 1stDecember the ministers responsible for spatial planning and territorial development will sign the new Territorial Agenda 2030. TA comes after a long process of discussions and negotiations. ESPON played a key role during this process, and we are proud to see also our work acknowledged in the final document. Our Monitoring Committee members from Germany, Poland and Portugal present their expectations from the pilot actions they are about to implement.

Finally, 21 EU countries have access to the sea. That makes Maritime Spatial Planning and Land-Sea Interactions a core issue in the debate about economy and development. In this TerritoriALL we present a new policy  brief on MSP-LSIand analyses from Cyprus, Maltaand Germanyon the impact of MSP in their countries' spatial planning.

You can find these and many other interesting stories about ESPON projects, the future of our programme and some of our partners, like VASAB. And you can read my interview if you are interested to know more about my background and my vision for ESPON.

Before closing I want to express my gratitude to the German Presidency and especially our colleagues from the Federal Ministry of Interior. Their devotion and support is one of reasons this magazine and, overall, the ESPONweek exceeded any expectation.

Enjoy your reading

This article appears in the A regional geography of COVID-19 Issue of TerritoriALL

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This article appears in the A regional geography of COVID-19 Issue of TerritoriALL