The spatial observation network does comprise EU member states as well as neighbouring countries like Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. ESPON aims to establish a permanent system of spatial monitoring of the European territory. The Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) represents Switzerland in the programme. The new phase (ESPON 2020) was officially launched with a call for tenders in December 2015.
Switzerland benefits in a number of ways from its participation in the ESPON 2013 programme: Swiss research institutes may participate as partners in various projects. The programme's findings are of relevance to our country's spatial development and can therefore be applied directly. Participation in the programme has also helped Switzerland establish a number of valuable relationships and thus build up its own international network of long-term international partners. What is more, the ESPON programme lends a European context to the ARE's traditional scope of spatial observation, thereby enabling international comparisons based on common indicators to be made for the first time ever.