Possible European Territorial Futures

The ESPON study on ‘Possible European Territorial Futures’ explores different futures for Europe and their territorial impacts. The aim is to generate new insight on possible future developments and develop a territorial foresight approach which supports policy makers in assessing the robustness and ‘future-proof’ of their policies. The study will also result in a practical handbook for the (ESPON) research community and planning practitioners on how to conduct European territorial foresight studies.

In this light the aim of the focus group is to discuss the three foresight topics and collect insights from a wide range of different players and experts in different fields concerning possible territorial impacts. The three foresight topics are formulated as 'what if' questions:

  • What could be the territorial consequences if a new place-based economic organisation were implemented as part of a circular economy?
  • What could be the territorial consequences if Europe´s energy production and consumption were 100% renewable?
  • What could be the territorial consequences if European property markets collapsed?

Territorial Foresight Approach

Foresight approaches support political agenda setting and the identification of future challenges and opportunities. Foresight studies serve policy development as they can advise policy makers on how to ensure that there current policies are robust in the light of future uncertainties and give them the opportunity to think about risk prevention as well as develop opportunities as part of long-term strategic planning.

This ESPON project applies a territorial foresight approach that combines different methodologies to enhance the understanding of possible territorial consequences. The methods applied in the study are continuously reflected in order to draft guidelines for conducting a territorial foresight by planning practitioners at European, national, regional and local levels.

Participatory approaches - focus groups held in Barcelona and Vienna

The future brings about many uncertainties and unknown factors. Therefore this study relies largely on participatory approaches collecting insights and views from a wide range of different players and experts in the different fields concerning the 3 foresight topics. The results from these focus groups will be supplemented with information collected and analysis performed based on available statistical data, literature studies and surveys.

Focus Group Barcelona 23-24 November 2016

The first meeting has been organised in the format of an interactive workshop with intense thematic work in small working groups 23-24 November 2016 in Barcelona.

The emphasis of the first focus group meeting was on discussing and reviewing selected results of the status-quo analysis and prognosis and developing a joint understanding of the three what-if questions.

The presentation from the Barcelona focus group can be downloaded here.

Focus Group Vienna 20-21 February 2017

The second focus group has been organised to discuss possible European futures for the three foresight topics. This focus group aimed at defining the territorial impact of the three imaginary futures. Experts in either circular economy, renewable energy or property markets as well as foresight experts discussed these topics in the 3 parallel sessions.

Among the results of the focus group are systemic pictures of the 3 foresight topics showing the main cause-effect relations for the 3 topcis and the main indicators related to that, first maps showing the territorial impact of these indicators and 'fuzzy' maps showing more qualitative data or uncertainties for these 3 new situations. All inputs will be used to further develop these topics and identifying the territorial consequence of the imaginary futures, their opportunities and challenges for cohesion or disparities between European regions and cities.


Below the discussion paper that served as input to stimulate discussion and a brief summary of the main discussions can be downloaded. This summary of the focus group's conclusions focuses on the key points, a more elaborated version has been shared in the project group and with the various experts in the team to further define and develop the territorial impact for the 3 topics. The topic specific presentations are available under the specific headings below.

Foresight Topics

The ESPON Territorial Futures study combines different methodologies to enhance the understanding of possible territorial consequences linked to three foresight topics: a new place-based economic organisation as part of a circular economy, a 100 % renewable energy production and consumption in Europe and a collapse of Europe’s property markets.

The ongoing refinement of the defintion of these topics, the most identification of the most relevant factors and their territorial implications are presented in the sections below.

Property Markets

- under construction -

Download the presentation from the property markets sessions here.

Renewable Energy

- under construction -

Download the presentation from the renewable energy sessions here.

Circular Economy

- under construction -

Download the presentation from the circular economy sessions here.

Further information & links

Would you like to get involved in the study? Please join our LinkedIn group "ESPON - Territorial Futures" or continue the discussions on our project group on Yammer.

Please find related information on the study on the following webpages:

For more information on the study or the two workshops, please contact Nathalie Wergles or Kai Böhme.