Regional Economy

European local and regional authorities are required to promote sustainable and inclusive economic development, within the context of overarching European and national strategies. Common policy topics in terms of smart growth include, among others, infrastructure projects for delivering free Wi-Fi connectivity in city centres; development of ‘apps’ and interactive technologies which allow citizens and businesses to interact with local and regional government; and producing and collecting data on urban living, including the usage of spaces, traffic, and energy use in buildings and electric vehicles. In terms of sustainable growth, cities and regions are concerned with the development of infrastructure for low-carbon transport; promoting resilience and energy security through local electricity generation; the development of new economic sectors, including green industries; and greening existing sectors and supply chains assisted by ‘smart procurement’ systems. As for inclusive growth, local and regional authorities mean to take account of issues such as demographic change and vulnerability created by aging populations and large-scale migration; development of affordable, sustainable housing, and the provision and distribution of public services to all members of society.

In many different ESPON projects, the economic variable plays an important role. For example ESPON is analyzing Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) as the backbone of backbone of the European economy. However, in spite of the strong presence of SMEs in Europe and their contribution to employment and growth, a systematic and comparative overview and analysis of SMEs at regional level is missing.The ESPON territorial evidence needs to focus on options for SME development. This is to enable more targeted and tailor-made public initiatives at regional level and to strengthen their contribution to economic growth and employment in European regions and cities.

But apart from SMEs, ESPON also has a look on other areas, where the economic development of the European territory is a central aspect.