Building a cross-border spatial planning strategy between four countries: a wishful thinking?

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Since 2010 and the launch of the METROBORDER project, funded by ESPON, Luxembourg and the neighbouring regions in Belgium, France and German pursue the objective of creating a cross-border polycentric metropolitan region. This strategy should bring more coherence and cohesion within this region which is strongly functionally integrated, due to the very high number of cross-border commuters but which is still poorly institutionally integrated. We have been involved in the building of the economic part of this strategy as moderators and scientific advisors. As such, we were able to identify obstacles to cross-border cooperation. The objective of this presentation is to depict the gap between the initials ambitions and the strategy issued with the required critical distance. We propose to describe and analyse the policy content of this strategic territorial vision but, most of all, the difficulties faced by the policymakers in its elaboration. These problems are due mainly to institutional mismatches, diverging policy priorities and differences in planning cultures. We will also highlight the importance of trust between individuals, which remains understudied in the field of cross-border spatial planning but which is, according to our experience, a crucial parameter. In this difficult context, the consensus that has been reached by all the stakeholders is the “smallest common denominator”, that is to say the less constraining. Of course, such a posture is far from being enough to tend to a more coherent and integrated cross-border area.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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