The Attractiveness of European Regions and Cities for Residents and Visitors (ATTREG)

Project details

Full project title: The Attractiveness of European Regions and Cities for Residents and Visitors (ATTREG)

Duration: 2009- 2012

ESPON; Applied Research Project

Funding: €84.000

Project Leader for SPE: Professor Rob Atkinson

Other UWE Bristol researcher:
Dr Ian Smith

Research partners/collaborators:

The project was carried out by a consortium of nine European research institutes, led by the University Rovira i Virgili (Spain), and including:

  • Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium)
  • UWE Bristol (UK)
  • University of Venice Ca`Foscari (Italy)
  • University of Coimbra (Portugal)
  • University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)
  • Institute of Geography Spatial Organisation of the Polish Academy of Sciences

and two private organisations:

  • the European Research Centre for Comparative Urban Research (EURICUR, based in the Netherlands)
  • the Centre for Regional and Tourism Research (CRT), based in Denmark.

Project summary

ATTREG is an applied research project of the ESPON programme 2007-13. It explores the importance of territorial attractiveness for both current and future European spatial development and the degree to which the concept of territorial attractiveness is considered in spatial policy and how it might contribute to achieving European regional cohesion.

The project focuses on the assets and potentials characterising places and the modalities through which assets can be mobilised in order to contribute to the creation of new development paths and visions for the EU territory. The concept of 'attractiveness' focuses on the quality of places and their capacity to attract a range of people; it explicitly draws attention to the spatial aspects of places and emphasises their complexity whilst simultaneously highlighting the differential capacity of places to provide and mobilise the qualitative aspects of place, both with regard to existing residents and potential future residents, and to various types of visitors. The project is based on the concept of place as a spatial complex characterised by its own territorial capital, being a combination of concrete and less tangible aspects, the sum of which, through a combination of local social, political and economic relations, produces the uniqueness of places.

Key outputs


  • Policy recommendations to relevant European and National policy communities
  • Cartographical elaboration of the policy prescriptions
  • Publications:
    • (with Smith, I.) ‘Mobility and the smart, green and inclusive Europe', Local Economy, Vol. 26(6-7), pp562-576), 2011.
    • (with Servillo, L. and Russo, A.) ‘ Territorial attractiveness in EU urban and spatial policy: A critical review and future research agenda', European Urban and Regional Studies , Vol. 19, 2012.

Key findings

What we achieved in this exploratory research on the capacity of European regions to attract different mobility flows is:

  • the analysis of the effects of attraction in a variety of contexts;
  • the characterisation of regions in terms of their attraction potentials;
  • the mobilisation of territorial capital in governance processes that effectively integrate attractiveness as a key concept in territorial cohesion strategies.

On the basis of the above, the project aimed to identify:

  • What are the policy implications of the project findings?
  • How can public actions enhance the factors of attractiveness?
  • More specifically, what is the role of EU policy in enhancing the attractiveness of EU regions within the framework of the territorial cohesion strategy?
  • What type of indications can the project provide to enhance the functioning of multilevel governance processes?

Project contact

For further information on the project, please contact Professor Rob Atkinson.

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