The IMAJINE project (Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe) is one of the largest social sciences projects to be financed as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. The five-year project aims to come up with new policy approaches for tackling inequality and promoting a fairer distribution of resources across the EU.

The core objective of IMAJINE is to formulate new integrative policy mechanisms to enable European, national and regional government agencies to more effectively address territorial inequalities within the European Union, and to imagine a future for European regions in which the distribution of resources is consistent with principles of social and spatial justice.

The project brings together 15 partners from across Europe and takes a uniquely inter-disciplinary approach to studying regional inequalities. It will combine the expertise of economists, geographers, planners, political scientists and sociologists working both on European-level analysis and detailed case studies in 11 countries, including Wales.

Elements of the IMAJINE study include:

  • analysis of socio-economic statistics on inequalities;
  • an online survey to explore public perceptions of regional inequalities and cohesion policies;
  • investigations into the connections between regional inequalities and migration, and regional inequalities and movements for political autonomy;
  • research on how governments use the distribution of public services and resources to address inequalities;
  • ‘participatory scenario building’ exercises with stakeholders to explore potential policy options for tackling inequality.

Territorial cohesion is a key principle for the European Union, yet since 2008 inequalities between different regions in Europe have increased and there is a growing consensus that we need to re-examine policies for social cohesion and regional development. By taking a broad, multi-disciplinary approach, the IMAJINE project aims to encourage fresh thinking and new ideas.

One of the elements that the project will explore is whether public perceptions of inequalities match up with the statistical analysis, whether there are connections between regional inequalities and migration flows, and whether more political autonomy for regions could present an alternative way to address perceived injustices. The project will work with stakeholders from governments, NGOs and communities to develop policies that imagine a more spatially just future for Europe.


Interview with Professor Michael Woods, Aberystwyth University

Professor Michael Woods from Aberystwyth University discusses a recently completed project funded by the European Union called IMAJINE and made up of 15 partners across Europe, in which a spatial justice framework is used to examine territorial inequalities in Europe and the impact of European Union cohesion policies.