chapter  7
24 Pages

Shifts in territorial governance and the Europeanization of spatial planning in Central and Eastern Europe


Introduction From the early 1990s, spatial planning in Europe has experienced rapid and sometimes radical reform. This is especially true for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The enlargement of the European Union, economic globalization, increasing competition, the sustainable development agenda, and demographic change have been key factors in shaping the speed and direction of change. At the same time, European-wide policy statements on spatial planning and the recognition of the critical spatial impacts of sectoral policies have been important in stimulating reforms. A wide range of transnational interregional and cross-border networking initiatives have influenced thinking about alternative approaches by exposing planning professionals to planning practices and policies in other countries. The result has been the ‘Europeanization’ of spatial planning in various ways, although this is not synonymous with the convergence of planning systems or planning approaches. Cooperation and exchange assumes that dissemination of experiences will help to lead to overall improvements in the performance of spatial planning, and that practices and policies that are successful in one place can also be successful if transposed to another setting (Stone 2004). But notions and practices of spatial planning vary greatly among European countries. These differences are deeply embedded in the social, political and administrative cultures of countries and regions, and there are great divides, particularly between north and south, and west and east Europe. Such differences call into question the applicability of the direct transposition of ‘best practices’ and potentially put limits on the harmonization or convergence of spatial planning approaches. This is particularly true when considering the transposition of practices in spatial planning to the ‘new’ from the ‘old’ Member States (East and West for short), where conditions are fundamentally different. The purpose of this chapter is to explain and chart general trends in spatial planning systems and policies in Europe with reference to countries of Central and Eastern Europe. It sets the scene for more detailed consideration of recent developments in particular countries. The chapter begins by drawing attention to

important European territorial development issues and debates about the apparent Europeanization of spatial planning and convergence of systems and policies. This has taken place within the context of transnational networking, knowledge exchange, learning and policy transfer via European initiatives such as INTERREG and ESPON, both of which help to create and support the work of epistemic communities. We then consider the available evidence on the nature of change in spatial planning systems in Western and Eastern Europe, and offer some tentative conclusions on the impacts of Europeanization and the extent of convergence.