European Policy Development 1/2
Policy makers at European level have over the last decades discussed and developed policy orientations for the European territory. Policies for regional development are an inherent part of the Lisbon Treaty, with the aim of facilitating economic, social and territorial cohesion.
The aim of territorial cohesion for the European cooperation shall be seen in the context of the increasing interest by policy makers in a territorial approach with deeper horizontal policy integration which has emerged little by little over last decades.
The subsequent INTERREG programmes are a result of this process, which has implied an opening for cooperation in a larger territorial context, being it cross-border, transnational or inter-regional in geographical terms.
Actually, the demand for a European cross-sector strategy for the European territory was first voiced in 1992. This challenge was taken up by EU Member States that developed and approved at an Informal Ministerial Meeting in Potsdam in 1999, the European Spatial Development Perspective. This document included policy orientations, approaches and governance ideas that are still to be found in the policy thinking today. Key policy orientations for the entire European territory were (1) balanced and polycentric development, (2) good access to regions and services and (3) intelligent management of natural and cultural resources.
The European Commission was supportive to a number of actions set up by Ministers in Tampere. Of particular importance was the further support to transnational activities under Interreg as well as to testing the idea of a European Observatory on Territorial development. The test of the observatory later led to the first ESPON 2006 Programme.