Peoples’ lives exceed administrative borders. They live, work and travel from one place to the other: They may live in a town and work in a near big city, they may enjoy cycling in a forest of their neighbouring region or go for shopping at the mall next to the borders.

Policy decisions have also effects beyond administrative borders. Social and economic developments in one place -like new infrastructure, increased labour needs, changes in legislation- have a direct impact to the development perspectives of the neighbouring areas.

Places become more interdependent, but if they do not work together they waste resources competing each other and either they are left behind or are not growing enough to compete on a global level. They miss opportunities to have a real positive impact and improve citizens’ lives.

The question is: How is it possible to match policy interventions with the scale of developments instead of the administrative borders? How can we design and implement policies that support areas in decline, help them combine forces with their neighbours and benefit from a more holistic approach of a broader functional area?

A two days seminar in Iași, that is organised by ESPON and the Romanian Presidency, starting on Wednesday 19 June 2019, will address these questions.

ESPON is the European Territorial Observatory Network that provides scientific analyses and advice for territorial and sectoral policies in a number of contexts including economy and finance, unemployment, foreign direct investment, circular and low-carbon economy, healthcare, migration, etc.

Professor Simin Davoudi, from Newcastle University will present “the need to re-imagine territorial cohesion”, and focus EU Cohesion Policy on approaches tailormade to each place.

Tim Moonen, who is director of Research at The Business of Cities will focus on how new industries, new types of employment and new flows may shape functional areas, presenting examples from Europe and around the world of mega-regions, multi city regions and metropolis.

“Functional areas are not defined by the borders of the administration, but by the needs of the people” says Ilona Raugze, director of ESPON EGTC. “They can be at pan-European, urban, cross-border or macro-regional level and they aim to provide the necessary framework for action to ensure the service provision, economic development, mobility, etc.” she added.

This is a revolutionary approach, underlines Mrs Raugze, that requires new governance solutions, planning systems and implementation practices. And on top of that strong political leadership to promote change for the benefit of the people.

The seminar will also provide insights from 13 projects that were recently finalized on topics related to the territorial cohesion debate including financial instruments, green infrastructure, circular economy, refugee flows, youth unemployment, geographical specificities, cultural heritage, territorial impact assessment, land-sea interactions, big data and urban rural linkages

The seminar will open by Alin Virgil Chirilă, Secretary of State from the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration of Romania.