Abstract: This brief editorial introduces a set of articles dealing with territorial challenges in Europe. The EU and the member states have put attention to a silent, but growing issue of inequality: The spatial disparities are in several member states considered able to provide wider political tensions and challenges. Consequently, the EU has launched a research theme in its framework programme Horizon 2020 to cope with such matter. Most of the papers in this issue have their origin in the Horizon COHSMO project “Inequality, Urbanization and Territorial Cohesion. Developing the European Social Model of Economic Growth and Democratic Capacity.” While social or economic inequalities are recognized as a social problem, spatial disparities are forgotten or ignored. However, territorial inequalities do boost social and economic differences and add to growing tensions and contradictions in many cases. Coping with such challenges is a difficult matter; most European countries have had programmes aiming at rebalancing regional inequalities for many years. Despite major investments in public services, infrastructure, education and culture, as well as targeted support for private investors, businesses raising employment opportunities and so on. However, the success in terms of growing population and employment has been limited. Instead, endogenous structures and relations receive more attention; in particularly local capacity to generate solutions and means to promote economic and social development. This ability strongly links to the concept of collective efficacy, i.e., a joint understanding and capability to organize and execute actions of mutual benefit.
Keywords: European regional development; inequality; inter-scalar relations; local development; social cohesion; spatial justice; territorial cohesion; territorial government