TOPO-EUROPE addresses the 4-D topographic evolution of the orogens and intra-plate regions of Europe through a multidisciplinary approach linking geology, geophysics, geodesy and geotechnology. TOPO-EUROPE integrates monitoring, imaging, reconstruction and modelling of the interplay between processes controlling continental topography and related natural hazards. Until now, research on neotectonics and related topography development of orogens and intra-plate regions has received little attention. TOPO-EUROPE initiates a number of novel studies on the quantification of rates of vertical motions, related tectonically controlled river evolution and land subsidence in carefully selected natural laboratories in Europe. From orogen through platform to continental margin, these natural laboratories include the Alps/Carpathians-Pannonian Basin System, the West and Central European Platform, the Apennines-Aegean-Anatolian region, the Iberian Peninsula, the Scandinavian Continental Margin, the East-European Platform, and the Caucasus-Levant area. TOPO-EUROPE integrates European research facilities and know-how essential to advance the understanding of the role of topography in Environmental Earth System Dynamics. The principal objective of the network is twofold. Namely, to integrate national research programs into a common European network and, furthermore, to integrate activities among TOPO-EUROPE institutes and participants. Key objectives are to provide an interdisciplinary forum to share knowledge and information in the field of the neotectonic and topographic evolution of Europe, to promote and encourage multidisciplinary research on a truly European scale, to increase mobility of scientists and to train young scientists. This paper provides an overview of the state-of-the-art of continental topography research, and of the challenges to TOPO-EUROPE researchers in the targeted natural laboratories. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.