Territorial Scenarios and Visions for Europe

The aim of this project was to develop a vision of the European territory supported by sound scientific knowledge. In a participatory process different groups of stakeholders were involved in developing the vision to widen thematic, temporal and territorial horizons by imagining a future that transcends sector-based, short-term and domestic policy considerations.

The following key questions were to be answered:
(1) What is the current state of the European territorial structure?
(2) What will be the future European territorial structure if development trends and policies remain unchanged?
(3) What are feasible future European territorial structures in three exploratory scenarios?
(4) What is the room for politically steering the future territorial development in Europe?
(5) What could be midterm targets in order to steer territorial development towards the desired long-term vision, and what policy actions are required to meet these midterm targets?

Project partners were, under the project leadership of Mcrit S.L. (Spain), twelve research institutions from Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.

The project was organised in five steps:
 1: Analysos of Europe today
 2: Baseline scenarios for 2030 and 2050
 3: Alternative explorative scenarios 2050
 4: Territorial Vision Europe 2050
 5: Mid-term targets and pathways

The task of S&W in the project was to model the spatial development of the European continent until the year 2050 subject to different assumptions about the future structural and cohesion policy of the European Union and the further improvement of the European transport networks under constant assumptions about the total development of the European economy, population and net migration after the economic crisis of 2008.

For this, in collaboration with the other project partners, a baseline scenario and three exploratory scenarios were developed:
In the MEGAs Scenario A large European metropolitan areas are promoted in the interest of competitiveness and economic growth.
In the Cities Scenario B major European cities are promoted in order to strengthen the balanced polycentric spatial structure of the European territory.
In the Regions Scenario C rural and peripheral regions are promoted to advance territorial cohesion between affluent and economically lagging regions.

In all scenarios the total volume of EU Structural Funds expenditures was kept as 0.4 per cent of total EU27 GDP, and only the allocation of Structural Funds expenditures to regions is changed according to the scenario objectives: in Scenario A in proportion to GDP of MEGAs, in Scenario B in proportion to population of the promoted cities and in Scenario C as in the Baseline Scenario as an inverse function of GDP weighted by GDP per capita of the regions to be promoted. Die nachstehende Karte zeigt die resultierende Verteilung der Struktufondsmittel:

EU Structural Funds expenditures in SASI exploratory scenarios A, B and C

In addition to the Baseline Scenario and the exploratory scenarios A, B and C, nine scenario variants, in which the three exploratory scenarios are combined with alternative framework conditions were tested with the SASI model:
(1) Economic recession: Globalisation and growth of emerging economies lead to stagnation and almost decline of the European economy.
(2) Technology advance: New innovations in labour productivity and transport technology result in significant increases in labour and transport system productivity.
(3) Energy/climate: Rising energy costs and/or greenhouse gas emission taxes lead to strong increases of production and transport costs

The following table shows combinations of the three exploratory scenarios and the three different framework conditions resulting in nine scenario variants:

A compact overview on the project ESPON ET2050 is given in the ESPON brochure Making Europe Open and Polycentric. Visions and Scenarios for the European Territoy towards 2050. Luxembourg: ESPON. Information on the whole project is available on the project website and the ESPON website.

The scenarios calculated with the SASI model are described in Spiekermann, K., Wegener, M. (2014): Integrated Spatial Scenarios until 2050. ET2050 Scientific Report Volume 6. Dortmund: Spiekermann & Wegener Urban and Regional Research and in the presentation ET2050: European Territorial Scenarios modelled by SASI.

Information on the SASI model is availabe on the SASI model page. The SASI model is described in Wegener, M. (2008): SASI Model Description. Working Paper 08/01. Dortmund: Spiekermann & Wegener Urban and Regional Research.