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The Future of the ESDP

By A.K.F. Faludi

Abstract

The Future of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) - Executive Summary Andreas Faludi, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands The making of the ESDP has lasted the best part of ten years during which ministers of the member states responsible for spatial planning met to hold informal meetings, with the Committee on Spatial Development consisting of member state officials was responsible for the actual work. Stepping stones have been the 'Leipzig Principles' (1994); the 'First official draft' (1997); the 'First compete draft' (1998); and the ESDP as such adopted at Potsdam in 1999, followed by an 'Action programme' the same year. Application of the ESDP has been patchy. As far as the countries most active in promoting it are concerned, there is not much to report, but countries and regions in the periphery have been stimulated to engage in national spatial planning. The Council of Europe has generalised the ESDP to apply to the whole of the European continent, and some candidate members have formulated spatial development perspectives of their own. The most surprising impact has been in the work of the European Commission where the latter invokes ESDP principles in the administration of the Structural Funds, in the White Paper on Governance and in the Second Cohesion Report. At the same time, the Commission has ended its support for the ESDP process. Insisting that the Community had no competence in this field, whilst at the same time only too willing to obtain all the support from the Commission that they could, member states have overplayed their hands. The Commission has now set its sights on regaining control over this field, but not under the flag of spatial development. Instead, the concept in the draft Constitutional Treaty of territorial cohesion will form the umbrella under which the Commission will pursue its relevant policies. As regards the approach, the Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC) is likely to be invoked. The paper ends with a scenario of the application of OMC in formulating 'European Territorial Cohesion Strategy' pursuing (as agreed in the ESDP) polycentric development in Europe. In fact, the ESDP process has already shown features of OMC (various member states contributing to a process of mutual learning), so this would not be fundamentally new. Member states would be invited to prepare Territorial Cohesion Plans for Action forming the object of mutual reviews and of discussions at European Territorial Cohesion Forums. The Commission would hold the ring. Actors would be encouraged to explore their spatial positions, including their strengths and weaknesses. The Commission would do this on behalf of the EU, member states and others (e.g. the transnational networks emerging as a result of the Community initiative Interreg) from their perspectives. This would be a polycentric process fitting for a policy designed to promote polycentric development

Year: 2004
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Provided by: NARCIS
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