ECP Questionnaire for ESPON MID Term Evaluation
MVA Reference No: C33206
1. How and when was your organisation nominated as an ESPON contact
The Ministry of Economy and Finance has chosen the Research University Institute
of Urban Environment and Human Resources – UEHR forming a network together
with the Spatial Development Research Unit – SDRU of Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki and the Laboratory of Spatial and Urban Planning and Regional
Development – SSUPRD of the University of Thessaly, located in Volos, to play the
role of the Greek ECP under the guidelines of the Ministry. The Institute under
contract, acting as network coordinator is affiliated to the Department of Economics
and Regional Development Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in
Athens and is a public body of private law.
The nomination of the Greek ESP was agreed with a contract signed by the Greek
Ministry of Economy and Finance at the end of 2002 (Contract 2001 – 2006).
The above network has been chosen to act as ESPON ECP because of its Know –
how and expertise on European spatial planning and its involvement and active
participation in the SPESP Programme as well. Moreover, the network consists of
Institutes which are capable to ensure effectiveness and dissemination all over
2. The three major ideas of ESPON seem to be:
Harmonising and collecting data into a database for use
by ESPON participants,
Policy analysis input at EU, Member States, lower levels,
Networking between scientists and policy makers.
Is this how you see things? Is it all working and do you think ESPON is
progressing as expected?
The up to date progress of Espon confirms the initial ideas and assists the spatial
planning process at a European level broadening the European territory study to the
Enlargement Countries as possible. The basic choice for building a strong networking
between scientists and policy makers contributes positively towards more effective
spatial analysis based on harmonized data, as well towards a more scientific
approach the spatial phenomena aiming at the best policy releted outputs as a
necessary assistance to policy makers.
Although the results have still to be re-examined and a lot of technical difficulties
exist, we consider the fulfilment of the initial goals as a crucial perspective for the
success of the ESDP.
3. What, in your opinion, is the role of an ECP?
The basic role of an ECP in our opinion is to set out a scientific and policy making
assistance mechanism at a national - local scale that is capable to suggest policy
recommendations from a European perspective based on harmonized scientific data
that concern with the European Territory as a whole.
An ECP should generally support the ESPON goals within the framework of the
ESDP implementation perspective.
In addition to this general role an ECP should act in close cooperation with the
national authorities in order to assure the scientific quality and fulfilment of the
research programmes outputs, interven when necessary for the accuracy of the data
base collection on behalf of the country that it represents and support all the research
programmes with data as possible.
An ECP should also stay close and be in a regular contact with the ESPON
Monitoring Committee and the Coordination Unit.
Finally the ECP network plays a very important role in the exchange of information
and data and in the provision of support to the TPG’s work, evaluating in an informal
scientific way the outputs from European and national perspectives, aiming at the
best synthesis of scientific approaches and policy recommendations.
Building a sub network of organisations, institutes and generally data sources links is
considered as a basic feature of an ECP’s responsibility in order to facilitate the
spatial analysis outputs and strengthen the effectiveness of the ESPON goals.
Otherwise the ECP would not be capable of representing its country as a scientific
advisor with adequate Knowledge about policy oriented national research institutions
in all spatially relevant sectors, or other authorities relevant with spatial planning and
4. The ECP network is composed of different types of organisations (e.g.
ministries and academic / research institutions). Do you have any view
on the effectiveness of this mix?
Such a mix has all the advantages to anure the necessary cooperation between
academic and research institutions with the national authorities with expertise on
spatial planning and regional development. Such cooperation broadens the
Knowledge capacity exchange and strengthens the network.
We should stren that the policy recommendation role of an ECP and the network as
a whole, requires strong links with the national and local authorities and policy
oriented public institutes in order to anure and improve the outputs of the ESPON
5. How do the current financial resources for ECPs affect performance?
What is the consequence of a split between tasks funded by ESPON and
tasks funded nationally?
The current financial resources have proved to be poor and inadequate for full action.
In our case the 90.000 Euro budget for the whole period 2.000 – 2.006 – according to
the contract with the Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance – does not permit the
full expansion of our effort to a maximum level in accordance with the framework of
the Monitoring Committee strategy document regarding the ECPs role. The up to
date Espon contribution is in the right direction, remains limited. Travel costs should
be increased for better contact opportunities between ECPs.
We do not disagree with the split between tasks funded by Espon and tasks funded
nationally, but we recommend that the Espon contribution should increase for better
6. What is the attitude of your national research community in SPD?
The whole national research community in Greece (Universities, research
institutions, private planning organisations and enterprises, etc.) is qualified on
European spatial planning policy (applied research and policy making consulting) and
its know how and expertise are adequate for further programmes.
The last fifteen years due to the five year socio-economic national plans within the
framework of the Structural Funds recourses, the national research community has
been involved in several spatial and development programmes at several planning
levels this has increased its researching capacity. As a consequence of this attitude
the Greek academic and scientific potential is quite open and capable for new
intergraded programmes on spatial planning and development.
7. Do you have any responsibility with regard to interaction with
INTERREG projects and case studies?
No we don’t have any. We have responsibility for participating to the 3.1.Espon
project and the 2.2.2.TPG within the framework of the contract signed with the EC
(contacting with the relevant agencies and public and private factors for data
collecting and evaluation of the progress in the accession countries /CADSES,
8. What activities (events, publications, networking) has your ECP carried
out to increase the awareness / visibility of ESPON and present ESPON
In cooperation with the Finland ECP we have prepared and put into function a
website that is open to the academic community, the national authorities and other
research and policy making organisations, as well to the Greek scientific partners
that participates to the Espon projects. Through this website (www.uehr.panteion.gr)
we promote the permanent contact and dialogue in between all the partners of the
informal network which have demonstrated a strong interest on the Espon
In addition to the website we have cooperated with the Cyprus representatives
supporting them to plan and function their website. We also participated to a
conference in Cyprus in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and Financing of
During the preparation process of the second Espon Seminar which took place in
Crete in May 2003, we collaborated with the Finland ECP on an informal evaluation
of some TPG’s projects /Second Interim reports, after an invitation from the CU.
Some of the ECP network responded to the invitation and the whole idea proved to
be quite useful, although during the Seminar in the special ECP Meeting some
resentment had been expressed that questioned and doubted the results from the
appropriate role of the ECPs network point of view.
In one or two cases we have supported the data requests from some project partners
of the TPG’s by sending their request to the relevant authorities in Greece.
We have also organised a special meeting with the participation of the Greek
partners in the Espon TPG’s aiming to facilitate their work and coordinate the latest
information on Espon news.
9. The ESPON programme has been expanded to facilitate improved
knowledge and understanding on spatial development arising out of an
enlarging European Union. Is the ECP network presently able to satisfy
that enlarged integrated European perspective?
We estimate that the ECP network is capable to meet the challenge of the enlarging
European perspective, although the means offered are currently limited. Better funds
and scientific personnel support are required in order to increase the capacity of the
network at a proper level.
10. Are you co-ordinating a "national" sub-network of researchers / national
research institutes interested in ESPON outputs? If yes, how is this
Through our recent work as we have described above (web site, meetings, etc.) we
have tried to broaden and promote the Espon ideas and outputs networking in an
informal way. The Greek ECP is composed by three research institutes as an internal
network. Beyond this we do not have organised any other official sub network,
although we consider its existence and future functioning as crucial for the
improvement of the Espon outputs, because the financial means are poor and such a
goal requires a positive and tense effort based on strong technical support.
We hope that in the future such a target would be more accessible.
11. The outcome of the ESPON programme is expected to support policy
makers in respect of the territorial dimensions of EU policy. How is the
ECP network helping to achieve that aim (in your country and Europe
By commenting for example on the TPG’s second interim reports outputs in five
cases and informing the Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance about the main
policy related results from a national and European respective in accordance with
framework of the contract we have signed. These comments are considered as
necessary consulting inputs for the EC Third Cohesion Report.
By sending those comments to the Coordination Unit, so that the Leader Partners of
the TPG’s could be informed and put them as well on the Espon website, supporting
in this way the exchange of policy recommendation dialog. These comments are also
quite useful for the Monitoring Committee as a consulting output for the Third
By informing all the Greek partners who participate in the TPG’s and make the
necessary suggestions on policy relevant fields.
In this direction a lot of ECPs have worked aiming at the elaboration of some suitable
guidelines for the European spatial and regional policies highlighting the spatial and
social dimension in all the relevant sectors.
12. What specific support do ECPs provide to the Monitoring Committee?
Have the MC made special requests for support, and if so are those
requests transferred to your national sub-network or handled directly?
Please explain how communication channels work?
As Greek ECP we preserve a permanent communication with the representatives in
the MC of the Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance informing them about all the
developments in the network.
The main request that the MC has made for support was the 3.1.Espon Project
contribution on the Third Cohesion Report.
We do not consider as adequate the communication channels between the MC and
the ECPs network.
In the ESDP implementation perspective and general success better and more
organised channels should be formed.
Anyway from our position we always inform the sub network of the three research
institutes that compose the Greek ECP and the responsible Ministry with which we
have the specific contract.
13. Have you received requests from TPGs for data or data guidance? If so,
how did you respond?
In some cases yes we have received requests concerning our country missing data.
Our respond was to transfer them to the responsible Greek agencies with our
recommendations to be collected or answered as soon as possible.
The effectiveness of our support depends of course upon the data availability in
Greece and the capacity of the public agencies to carry out the requested task.
14. Priority 4 - ESPON research briefing and scientific networking has a
specific measure (4.2) to cover “ESPON briefing and scientific co-
ordination of ESPON Contact Points”. This activity is an action carried
out through ECP co-ordination meetings. The first such meeting was
conducted on 14 February 2002. Given the importance placed on the
ECP network in the initial programme objectives do you feel that the
coordination is adequately carried out by two such meetings per year?
We consider the two meetings adequate, but it is not adequate to limit the
coordination just in the two meetings.
Some additional coordination procedures should be organised for a better
communication between the ECPs and the CU, so that the ECP networking could be
more effective and productive for the Espon objectives accomplishment.
For example some special secretariat could be estableshed beside the CU as a
technical support unit for the coordination between ECPs in order to facilitate the
procedures of carrying out specific goals and strengthen the regular contact and
communication channels between ECPs network.
15. The programme complement document indicated that the creation of
Transnational Project Groups, would be facilitated by ESPON Contact
Points, and that they would have to involve one ESPON Contact Point,
preferably from the Lead Partner country, as a project partner in order
to secure constant involvement in the ESPON network. The task of the
ECP being to secure the networking and the exchange of opinions with
other projects and the Co-ordination Unit.
o To what extent has this operational process functioned as envisaged?
o What TPGs have you been in contact with?
o What role did your ECP have in helping to find TPG lead partners and
in distributing tender information?
o Did you inform your network about selected lead partners, after each
round of tendering, so organisations could put themselves forward as
Yes we have supported the tender information distribution in some cases mainly for
the academic community and other public and private organisations following the
establishment of the Greek web site has been more convenient to provide
information about the selected leader partners and the up to date process of the
TPGs. Although we have incorporated the central Espon lu information within our
web site, in addition to this we have elaborated a special table that includes the exact
stage of every TPG. This table information constantly updated. We have also
included all the TPG project partners, leaders as well.
16. In some instances Lead Partners in projects seem to be carrying out
liaison actions envisaged for ECPs. What is your opinion on this?
We do not agree but we consider that the loose coordination procedures between
ECPs have necenitated such actions to fill the gap.
A better management of the coordination procedures between ECPs requires the
necessary intervention of the MC and the CU.
17. Have you seen, and been able to comment on ESPON Transnational
Project Group interim results?
As we have mentioned above, yes we have commented on five TPGs / First and
Second Interim Reports. Two of them were discussed during the Crete Seminar. Our
comments were transferred to the CU hoping that they we be sent to the Leader
Partners and be included to the Espon web site for further discussion in order to be
taken into account by the TPGs.
We intend to continue commenting on the TPGs third interim reports.
18. In addition to the actions above are you supporting the 7 objectives of
ESPON (see table at end of questionnaire) in other ways?
Yes we support the Espon objectives in many ways and we intend to increase our
effort in the future.
19. How effective are the ECPs in supporting ESPON, and vice versa?
Generally the mutual correspondence is eligible but we consider it up to now
inadequate. The up to date ECPs activities within the strategic document framework
are satisfactory according to the available means, but the outputs could be
broadened for better-intergraded results by a better procedure management
improving the technical contact conditions means and strengthening the coordination
process. Stronger links are required between the ECPs network and with the TPGs
20. A document setting out a strategy for strengthening the ECP network
has been considered by the Monitoring Committee. Have you been
informed of this, and if so what is your reaction to it?
Yes, the CU about the strategy document has informed us and our remarks have
been asked. We have also participated in the discussion that took place in the Crete
Seminar about the ECPs role.
21. Finally, what do you see as the future of ECPs and ESPON in general?
The ECPs network as mixed composition of academic community members, public
organisation representatives, national authorities; etc could be a permanent network
scientifically supporting the ESDP revising and implementation process, as well the
Espon it’s self, extended at the whole European Territory and including the
Enlargement countries. In addition to that we consider it as necessary to focus on the
ECPs cooperation establishing several working sub groups between ECPs relevant
to the discussion topics and tasks required by the EC, MC and CU, in the direction of
strengthening the macro European regions perspective as well.
The ESPON Programme should be a permanent structure on Spatial Planning and
Development promoting the European spatial dimension in all significant planning