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Placing European Territorial Cooperation Post-2020 at the Heart of EU Cohesion Policy

Eduardo Medeiros


In 2007, European Territorial Cooperation became one of the major goals of EU Cohesion Policy, building on the successful experiences from the INTERREG Community Initiative in supporting cross-border, transnational, and interregional cooperation processes across the EU territory since 1989. Yet, financially, this goal has never received more than 3 % of the total budget of EU Cohesion Policy. This article discusses the crucial role of European Territorial Cooperation for implementing the goals of EU Cohesion Policy, and debates several arguments suggesting its future (re)positioned at the heart of Cohesion Policy. More pointedly, the article sets out several advantages in adopting a transnational approach to the development of the EU territory, by exploiting transnational potentials, and tackling transnational needs in all domains of territorial development. Furthermore, we highlight the need to place the goals of reducing persistent barriers and implementing cross-border planning strategies at the core of cross-border cooperation programmes. Finally, it is concluded that there is a need to shift the ongoing ‘nationally driven EU Cohesion Policy’ design and implementation rationale into a ‘transnational driven’ rationale, and thus places European Territorial Cooperation at the heart EU policy making.

Eduardo Medeiros is Professor and Associate Senior Researcher at the Centre for Geographical Studies, IGOT, Lisbon University. He holds a Ph.D. in Geography, Urban and Regional Development Studies. He is a DG REGIO expert and leads the line of research in Territorial Cohesion, Territorial Cooperation, Territorial Development and EU Cohesion Policy.

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