The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning

Research Project: The Europe 2020 Strategy - implementation and effects in German regions

Project briefing

The Europe 2020 Strategy provides a framework for future European policy implementation. It describes the overall goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. In order to measure the Europe 2020 goals and to enhance the implementation of the Strategy in the Member States, quantified target indicators were agreed. This research project aimed at contributing to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy by illustrating how the method of operationalized objectives worked in the past, on the one hand, and by empirically analysing the contribution of the German regions to the Europe 2020 Strategy, on the other hand.
Project duration: September 2011 - September 2012


The Europe 2020 Strategy is central for all future European policy development during the current decade. It distinguishes three linked goals:

  1. Smart growth through economic development based on knowledge and innovation
  2. Sustainable growth by supporting a low-carbon economy
  3. Inclusive growth by emphasizing social and territorial cohesion with high levels of employment.

For each of these three goals concrete indicators were agreed, which are used to measure the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The following targets were quantified:

  • 75% of the 20-64 year-olds to be employed,
  • 3% of the EU's GDP to be invested in R&D,
  • greenhouse gas emissions 20% lower than 1990,
  • 20% of energy from renewables,
  • 20% increase in energy efficiency,
  • reducing school drop-out rates to below 10%,
  • at least 40% of 30-34 year-olds completing third-level education,
  • reducing people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion by at least 20 millions.

In order to achieve these targets, it is necessary to operationalize them at different territorial levels. This is why the Member States define national targets for the above-mentioned indicators. Within the Member States and depending on specific regional potentials, individual regions may contribute to different extents to achieving the national targets. For this purpose, the respective regional potentials are to be identified. In addition, it is necessary to analyse potential effects of different strategies of reaching the targets from a more general spatial development perspective (e.g. looking at the development of spatial disparities).


In terms of a spatially differentiated contribution of the regions to the goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy, this project had two aims.

Firstly, previous experiences of using operationalized targets as governance mechanism were analysed in the context of the project in order to illustrate the impacts of such approaches. Different governance mechanisms used in this context (such as the Open Method of Coordination) were analysed by means of concrete examples. Among others, different governance and coordination methods were distinguished in the analysis. The examples were selected from various policies in which operationalized goals were used in the past.

Secondly, the project aimed at empirically analysing the contribution of German regions for achieving the Europe 2020 targets. By means of this empirical analysis, development opportunities and potentials for action of German regions with regard to implementing the Europe 2020 Strategy were to be illustrated.

The research project was carried out by Spatial Foresight GmbH, Luxembourg.


  • Division RS 3 "European Spatial and Urban Development"

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