South Europe: Reacting to the Economic Crisis

ESPON knowledge for decision makers: Growth, Youth, Jobs. Competitiveness and productivity, energy, infrastructure, migration, education

The current economic crisis in Europe  is the inevitable result of an optimistic approach to economics, politics  and  the  market  in  general.  This  approach  based  its  competitiveness  and  employment opportunities on new technologies (cf. the Lisbon Strategy 2000) but, at the same time, it overlooked the  continent’s  financial  performance.  The  ESPON  2013  projects  based  on  place  evidence  resulted  in thorough explanations of the current economic crisis in Europe in general and the Southern Macroregion in particular. These projects sought to support policy and decision makers in their adoption of cohesive and austerity measures by evaluating the possible political, economic, environmental and social impact on all the states, regions and cities involved. To this end, the ESPON projects made use of a platform that gathered comprehensive analyses, data, maps, tools and guidelines. The ESPON on the Road project is the  result  of  a  joint  effort  by  France,  Greece,  Italy,  Spain  and  Romania  that  aims  to  promote  their territorial competitiveness. It demonstrated that levelling out disparity is a futile endeavour. Conversely, the  place  evidence  approach  showed  that  differences  can  become  the  basis  to  design  multisector common  strategies  based  on  the  Green  and  Blue  economy.  Planning  and  implementing  general  and sector-oriented integrated policies (e.g. Energy, Agriculture, Land-Sea Transport, etc.) that are linked to specific  territorial  contexts  (e.g.  coastal  and  mainland  areas,  large  metropolises  and  small  towns) become  paramount  for  boosting  growth  and  employment.  This  can  be  done  by  means  of  integrated investments  and  making  sure  cohesion  founds  are  adequately  spent  so  as  to  connect  cohesion, aménagement du territoire, good governance and Institutional Best Practice.