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Event | 23 June 2022

New perspectives on territorial disparities. From lonely places to places of opportunities

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Persisting territorial disparities across and within the EU represent, together with socioeconomic inequalities, a potential threat to the future of the European project. These inequalities are related to several spatial phenomena such as depopulation, limited access to services, lack of connection to the physical or digital network, and have been further exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is crucial to understand existing challenges and opportunities across European locations against territorial, social, environmental, demographic and economic disparities to produce evidence for improving policies coherently with the principles of leaving no place and no one behind.

This work introduces the exploratory concept of lonely places, which is spatially embedded and identifies a plurality of places that present a vulnerability in terms of lack or insufficient local endowment, accessibility, or connectivity. Although the term ‘lonely’ is mainly employed with reference to people, this study presents a unique spatial, multi-scalar and interdisciplinary approach to places. It aims at creating knowledge going beyond traditional operational classes of policy programmes (e.g., national or regional), the urban/ rural dichotomy, or administrative boundaries. This work also includes several dimensions (e.g., physical and digital infrastructure, access to school and, cultural facilities, democratic participation, migrants’ integration, etc.), which are all useful to create fully integrated policies.

The identification and assessment of lonely places are based on a quantitative analysis applying several methodologies to a combination of both traditional and experimental data, gathered at different levels of granularity - from the regional to the grid level- and mostly with European coverage. Findings from this research enhance and support evidence-based policy actions to favour cohesion among territories and avoid the possibility that places might act as an obstacle to individuals to achieving their full potential. Results presented in this report can also inform other specific EU policies and frameworks, as well as policies at national, regional, and local levels.


When: 23 June 2022, 14:30 – 15:45 CET

Where: Online, Webex

No registration is required, the link to the online launch is available here

Meeting number (access code): 274 488 48949

Meeting password: cpYpQhe$335 (27977430 from phones)



  1. 14:30 – 14:40

    Mikel Landabaso (Director of the Directorate B ‘Growth and Innovation’, Joint Research Centre, EC

  2. 14.40-14.45

    Dubravka Šuica, Vice President for Democracy and Demography of the European Commission

  3. 14.45-15.10
    Key findings of the report “New perspectives on territorial disparities. From lonely places to places of opportunities”, presented by the editors of the report

    Paola Proietti, Patrizia Sulis, Carolina Perpiña Castillo – Unit B.3, Joint Research Centre, EC

  4. 15.10-15.40
    Panel Discussion and Q&A with audience

    Panel moderator: Alessandro Rainoldi, Head of Unit B.3 ‘Territorial Development’, Joint Research Centre, EC

    Panel members:
    - Alexia Rouby, Policy Officer, DG AGRI, EC
    - Lewis Dijkstra, Head of the Economic Analysis Sector, DG REGIO, EC
    - Paolo Veneri, Head of Regional Analysis and Statistics Unit, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, OECD
    - Rachel Franklin, Professor of Geographical Analysis, Newcastle University and Alan Turing Institute.

  5. 15.40-15.45
    Closing remarks

    Carlo Lavalle, Team Leader Unit B.3, Joint Research Centre, EC