The Institutionalisation of European Spatial Planning aims to clarify the enterprise of European spatial planning. The emphasis of the book lies on the need for a better understanding of the process of European integration in general. It particularly points at the emerging middle range theories that used concepts that were showing similarity to those that academics –those writing about planning– were accustomed to, such as networks, discourses and governance. The focus of this book is mostly on the post-European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP)– the Committee of Spatial Development – from 1999 until now. As it is collection of articles, it has a different gestation process and does not tell a story from A to Z. What this book is about, however, is merely the issue concerning the institutional capacity of the ESDP and whether this has evaporated or not. The fact that this book exists at all suggests it has not.
About seven years ago Andreas Faludi and I wrote in the book The Making of the European Spatial Development Perspective – No Masterplan! that the institutional capacity that the ESDP had created was “in danger of evaporating” (Faludi & Waterhout, 2002: 177). This was also the conviction of the author of the ESDP, the Committee of Spatial Development, which consisted of representatives of the then fifteen Member States plus the European Commission. During a CSD seminar in 1998, organised by the Austrian Presidency, serious questions were raised like: Who really needs European spatial planning? What can European spatial planning achieve and with what instruments? What are the necessary arrangements for European spatial planning? And also, ‘we have been very focused on the ESDP text; we missed the wider picture!’ and ‘we must become more professional!’ (Faludi & Waterhout, 2002: 169). Clearly, serious doubts existed.
It was against this shaky background that we, whilst committing ourselves to the sake of European spatial planning, argued in the epilogue of our book for further research aiming to clarify the enterprise of European spatial planning. For this we emphasised the need for a better understanding of the process of European integration in general. In particular we pointed to the emerging middle range theories that used concepts showing similarity to those that academics writing about planning were accustomed to such as networks, discourses and governance.
This PhD thesis follows in these footsteps. Having been written by one of the authors under the supervision of the other, one would expect this thesis to follow-up this early account of the ESDP process. And indeed the focus is on the post-ESDP period, from 1999 until now. Also one would expect this work to continue the story of the ESDP planners and tell about the twisted roads followed to finally arrive at the Territorial Agenda of the European Union, which as the reader may know, was adopted by the EU ministers responsible for spatial planning and development on the 25th of May 2007 in Leipzig. This indeed is addressed to some extent, but do not expect the style and detail that characterised the previous work. This book is a collection of articles and therefore has a different gestation process and does not tell a story from A to Z. What this book is about, however, is merely the issue concerning the institutional capacity of the ESDP and whether this has evaporated or not. The fact that this book exists at all suggests it has not.
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