Editors’ introduction to Part I
As already introduced in the first chapter of this volume, evidence clearly suggests that recent enlargements of the European Union (EU) have drastically shifted the frontier of European integration eastward. This is true both in terms of the challenges faced by the EU and those facing the old and new Member States, and has important implications also in relation to the production of relevant ‘knowledge resources’ within the ‘knowledge arenas’ of spatial planning in Europe (cf. Adams et al., Chapters 1 and 2). From the first half of the 1990s, and particularly since the Copenhagen European Council in 1993, the EU started to broaden its horizons beyond its eastern border, for the first time bringing into question the western-oriented perspective under which it was born (cf. CEC 1994, 1996). Whereas the most recent enlargement rounds have initiated a set of political, democratic, cultural and socio-economic challenges, the territorial dimension of these new challenges constitutes a challenge in itself. The importance of the territorial dimension of the eastwards enlargement of the EU is clear if one considers that it led, in less than three years, to the expansion of the EU territory by nearly 40 per cent, while increasing the population by approximately 120 million up to a total of almost 500 million. At the same time, evidence on the spatial distribution of economic development illustrates how the challenges initiated by the enlargement process were far from being solved at the time of its formal completion: more than 92 per cent of the population of CEE Member States live in regions with a GDP per capita below 75 per cent of the EU average whilst the combined GDP of the recent entrants is only 10 per cent of the overall EU output (CEC 2007). The negative macroeconomic trends affecting CEE nations present considerable social, economic and spatial challenges for a variety of strategic policy sectors such as the economy, education, environment and social welfare and, in turn, the combination of these factors provides a highly challenging context for spatial planning in the enlarged EU. Furthermore, the progressive institutionalization of spatial planning at the European level (Waterhout 2008) has had a direct influence on cross-sectoral planning approaches within the domestic contexts of national planning systems. This influence on national planning systems includes both the old Member States as well as the EU entrants from CEE, partly
as a result of their preparations for accession to the Union, including but not limited to their eligibility for Structural funding. In this concern, there is some evidence to suggest a degree of convergence in ideas and approaches to spatial planning throughout the EU (Adams 2008; Stead 2008) due to specific processes of Europeanization (Adams et al., Chapter 2). Such a shift manifests through the everyday processes of institutional change and organizational learning referred to in Chapter 1, which seek to address the diverse territorial development challenges in the different regions of Europe. Notwithstanding the above-mentioned convergence of ideas and practices, the variety of these challenges and of the contexts within which these challenges are being faced determines that the results of these processes are context specific, as reflected by the growing institutional and organizational diversity between European regions and cities. Drawing on the above discussion, the Part I of this book explores the territorial challenges and the cognitive bounds that are contributing to shape the evolution of spatial agendas at the different territorial levels in diverse territorial contexts, all within the framework of the enlarged EU. In so doing, the various contributions discuss some of the approaches and trends in terms of spatial planning policy and practice that are emerging out of the recent enlargement processes. This exploration is undertaken from different points of view corresponding to the diverse backgrounds and expertise of the authors as well as their geographical location and experience, spread throughout western, central and eastern Europe. The heterogeneity of the contributors and the diversity of the chosen themes and approaches provides an opportunity to explore the evolution of spatial planning in Europe from multiple perspectives: first, from a general consideration of the economic forces and interests implicit in the dichotomy between cohesion and competitiveness; second, an extensive analysis of the process of institutionalization of European spatial planning and the reasons and means behind it; third, a more geographically focused reflection on the evolving framework for regional development in CEE; and, finally a consideration of the future perspectives for epistemic communities and the potential for their integration in the western and eastern part of the continent. Despite the heterogeneity described above, each author considers its specific theme in relation to the role of diverse communities of actors and the interplay between knowledge and policy development and this provides a unifying theme and links this section to the overall rationale for the book. The strong focus on knowledge creation inherent in the ‘epistemic communities’ concept (Haas 1992), which in the context of our theoretical framework has been extended to ‘territorial knowledge communities’ (Chapter 2), means that it is particularly relevant to elucidating this interplay between knowledge and policy development and the ways in which knowledge resources are created, contested, mobilized and controlled across governance architectures (cf. Radaelli 1995). As discussed in Chapter 2 the generation of such knowledge resources is not sufficient and this cognitive capacity to generate knowledge requires concrete actions to put it to use. How territorial knowledge communities articulate this knowledge is therefore crucial in determining its influence and this is particularly relevant in the context of contemporary communicative planning theory. Benz (2002) refers to
this as the combination of the cognitive task of analysis and goal formulation with the political task of overcoming conflicts of interest and the integration of divergent policies. Considerable resources are committed within the EU to sharing experience between these communities, in an attempt to overcome cultural and cognitive boundaries that may inhibit the sharing of ideas on policy and approach and the effective utilization of knowledge resources. There seems to be a shared consensus around the fact that emerging territorial challenges require both old and new Member States to build on the enlargement through the activation of new investment and a more effective utilization of ‘territorial knowledge channels’, in order to address increasing spatial polarization, economic disparities and environmental damage. However, as widely debated in the literature (Stead 2008; Stead and Nadin, Chapter 7) the appropriateness of sharing and transferring elements of successful approaches from context to context is somehow undermined by the diversity of planning cultures, styles and approaches that, already significant between the EU-15, has now reached an unprecedented level due to recent eastwards enlargements (Knieling and Othengrafen 2009). In order to seek answers to old and emerging territorial challenges, policy approaches need to reflect the new east-west dimension that is characterized by the emergence of a new socio-economic and political landscape, within which both established and new member states pursue the dual goals of ‘cohesion’ and ‘competitiveness’. However, whilst the pursuit of territorial cohesion and balanced and/or sustainable development continue to be central to the rhetoric of the EU policy agenda, the unrelenting emphasis on ‘regional competitiveness and employment’ since the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda (EC 2000) has increased the complexity of the context within which those goals are being pursued. The continuing emphasis on ‘balanced competitiveness’ is currently echoed in the latest territorial reference documents developed at the EU level, and more specifically in the Territorial Agenda of the European Union (DE Presidency 2007a) that is centred on the ‘global competitiveness and sustainability’ of European regions (cf. Böhme and Schön 2006). These tensions are further mirrored by current EU regional policy measures that, in spite of their apparent success in terms of economic convergence between Member States, continue to fuel increasing internal disparities within many Member States whereby national growth has been driven by a small number of dynamic regions (Ezcurra et al. 2007) in a process that Kunzmann (2008) refers to as metropolization. These challenges are evident in the presented contributions and are reflected in the different interpretations the various authors seem to have of similar issues. These issues illustrate both the cognitive bounds and at the same time the main challenges for spatial planning in Europe at present time, and it is within this context that the contributions in this section should be read. Despite the shared ambition to increase attention for the spatial dimension of EU policy, which facilitated the adoption of ESDP (CEC 1999) and more recently the Territorial Agenda (DE Presidency 2007a), the different authors show how contradictions remain evident in the EU spatial planning discourse. As Waterhout (2008) argues, this may be
partly due to the lack of identity amongst the ‘European planning community’, and the lack of a common understanding of what form European spatial planning could or should take at least in terms of broad guiding principles, possible future institutionalization and its fields of intervention. Pallagst reflects on the future of such a European planning community in terms of its potentials to integrate experts and communities from both ‘old’ and ‘new’ Member States. However, as pointed out by Finka, until now efforts in this direction seem to have been in vain and new ways need to be found in order to overcome existing cognitive bounds, to integrate knowledge effectively and to valorize the inherent diversity of the enlarged EU. The first contribution in this part is written by Mark Tewdwr-Jones (Chapter 3) and examines the existing tensions between the dual pursuance of economic competitiveness and territorial cohesion in the cross-scalar framework of the EU. In so doing, it illuminates the main features of the present and future context for territorial development in an evolving European landscape. In the beginning of the twenty-first century, the affirmation of the territorial cohesion objective in the official documents of the EU appears to have legitimized territorial actions at the European level. Explicit references to the principle of territorial cohesion have been included in the Treaty establishing a Constitution of Europe and eventually in the most recent version of the latter, the Lisbon Treaty. Nevertheless, despite its official legitimization, the interpretation of the concept of territorial cohesion remains open to debate, especially when national economic interests conflict with ideals of territorial re-equilibrium. Notwithstanding the wide appeal of the concept at the supranational level, the lack of uniform interpretation seems to imply that whilst the multidimensional nature of the concept could constitute an asset, it also introduces a set of unresolved tensions. An exploration of this dichotomy between cohesion and economic growth and competitiveness, which lies at the heart of these tensions, forms the basis for Chapter 3. More specifically the contribution focuses on a reflection about a persisting tension embodied in the concept of territorial cohesion and explores the potential mismatch between the implementation of the political objective of territorial cohesion and its contextual economic reality. In so doing, the author discusses the paradox associated with the notion of ‘balanced economic competitiveness’, central to several EU territorial guidance documents as well as to Commission policies associated with planned economic growth. The chapter illustrates this debate and makes a useful contribution to the conceptual development of territorial cohesion. It does so by focusing its attention on the ongoing regional economic trends concerning foreign direct investment (FDI) and the spatial impacts of this mobile capital, and situates them in the context of regional competitiveness. The author focuses more on the economic rather than the political concept of territorial cohesion and draws out some of the implications for spatial development in Europe. The quest to attract FDI is not new and lagging regions have traditionally sought to devise means of attracting this mobile capital. Given the socio-economic characteristics of many CEE countries it is not surprising that many of them have made extensive efforts to
attract FDI in an attempt to secure economic development and prosperity, despite the fact that degrees of success vary considerably and significant questions remain as to the long-term benefits of such a strategy; this makes this contribution particularly relevant in the context of the geographical focus of this book. The lack of an empirical base to underpin such strategies is discussed elsewhere in the book (cf. Capik, Chapter 13) and Tewdwr-Jones also discusses the extent to which current policy is knowledge-based, the role that knowledge plays and the identity of the agents involved in the generation of that knowledge. The author argues that the ongoing emphasis on polycentric development in spatial strategies across the EU may imply a shift toward spatial planning as a vehicle for the generation of economic growth in regions and away from concerns to redistribute or compensate such regions. Tewdwr-Jones concludes that, in light of the recent global economic recession that started in 2008, the importance of stimulating economic growth within European cities and regions is likely to find stronger political footing as a pan-European agenda within the EU and thereby challenging aspects of both the ESDP’s agenda as well as the spatial planning concepts related to territorial cohesion. The discussion provides valuable insights into the need for more economically aware spatial governance and the need to link the skills and storylines of planners to those of wider communities of practice, the latter point being taken up by Waterhout in the following chapter of this part. In line with authors both within this volume and others referred to in this volume (Haughton et al. 2010; Faludi 2010 forthcoming), the arguments of Tewdwr-Jones imply that spatial planning may need to reinvent itself to align to current realities and priorities, in this case to embed rather than simply to regulate mobile capital. The second contribution in Part I, authored by Bas Waterhout (Chapter 4), explores the evolution of European spatial planning in more depth, discussing the current state and the future challenges of the latter in relation to its progressive institutionalization. The institutionalization of European spatial planning is presented as a ‘complex, multi-facetted, multi-actor and multi-layered process’, requiring existing institutions to take on board diverse planning perspectives and solutions. Building on the set of uncertain elements that accompanied the evolution of European spatial planning since the ESDP process, the chapter reflects on the reasons behind the existence of a territorial dimension of community policies and on the extent to which the epistemic community that formed around the ESDP has been able to consolidate and exert an influence over sectoral policy subsequently. The contribution focuses on the post-ESDP period and features an extensive discussion of the events that characterized European spatial planning during this time, i.e. the institutionalization of the European Observation Network for Spatial Development and Cohesion (ESPON), the mainstreaming of the European Territorial Cooperation objective under the current programming period, the process behind the adoption of the Territorial Agenda of the European Union (DE Presidency 2007a) and the debate introduced by the publication of the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion (CEC 2008). These four components constitute what Waterhout refers to as the ‘pillars of European spatial planning’.