When the first territorial fiches were sent for feedback to the ESPON Monitoring Committee, back in December 2018, we were really excited. This had always been one of our objectives: to select information and data from the vast array of ESPON results that would be useful and relevant for individual countries and present them in a single document that could inspire researchers, consultants and decision-makers. Here they were: four sets of interesting excerpts from ESPON reports, case studies, charts and zoomed-in maps showing regional patterns at a better scale. We believed it was a very good idea, so we strongly supported it. In fact, our first reaction to the territorial fiches was: 'What is the timetable for the other country fiches, and when will the Romanian territorial fiche be ready?'
Looking back, we recalled how we had developed - in house or with the help of the ESPON Contact Point for the period 2007-2013 - tailor-made reports and publications that included the information from ESPON projects most relevant to Romania, also with the advantage of being translated into Romanian. When preparing our strategic documents in the field of territorial and urban planning, we could thus rely on ESPON as a source of information, not only general but also very specific. It had been a positive experience, and it made it easier to work on the territorial fiche.
Owing to the Romanian specificities, it was more difficult to use some results from more recent ESPON reports. We had to focus in particular on demographic and social issues, taking into account the latest trends at national and regional levels. It was a team effort that started with setting out a preliminary structure, with a focus on the relevant themes. Then we selected the maps, we interpreted them and we wrote the related text on trends and patterns at European and national levels. Afterwards, we had to edit the text down to comply with the constraints of the template. During this time, we were cooperating closely with the ESPON EGTC on various aspects such as the availability of maps and of updated statistical indicators and the correct wording in English. The EGTC also helped with the zoomed-in maps, which are in our view the main attraction of the country fiches.
And now, after a few months of hard but rewarding work, the territorial fiche for Romania is finally ready, and we are preparing for the next steps. First, we will do our best to disseminate it to all relevant stakeholders, by several means: publishing it in the 'ESPON in your country' section of ESPON's website, sending out a special newsletter and publishing it on our ministry's website.
We also intend to initiate discussions with institutions at national and regional levels, using the territorial country fiche as a starting point. The big advantage of the fiches is that one can look simultaneously at the European map and the zoomed-in map, gaining a wider perspective and thus more easily drawing conclusions on the territorial patterns that are relevant for a country or area. The country fiches can also help to demonstrate the importance of territory when discussing sectoral policies. A good example is the content on inner peripheries, which should influence the development of social and economic policies at regional and local levels.
In summary, from our perspective the country fiches are an excellent tool that can be used to better assess territorial potential and to spark fruitful debates with sectoral authorities and regional bodies on territorial challenges and trends.