Twenty‐five years of EU debate on territorial policy: time to go beyond intergovernmental rhetoric!

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Twenty-five years have elapsed since the first ministerial meeting on European territorial policy held in Nantes in 1989. It is worth taking stock of progress achieved by policy makers since this landmark event. Arguably, mixed results have been achieved, in terms of both content and process. The practical implications of the recognition of territorial cohesion as a formal EU policy objective have not yet been fully clarified. Participants in the process raised various key policy issues, several of which remain to be clarified. Three of them will be commented upon in this paper: EU cohesion policy remit: should this policy be mainly dedicated to a mere communicating vessels game between better- and less well-off regions (question “how much EU funding in which regions?”), or on the contrary, should it also encompass a content-related and territorial dimension (question “ESIF1 to do what and where?”); put otherwise, what are the implications for the EU territorial policy and should reference policy maps be elaborated to illustrate geographically differentiated policy options? Interdependence between various areas of the EU and the subsequent need for transboundary2 territorial integration; to what extent have the successive INTERREG territorial cooperation initiatives actually contributed to a genuine territorial integration process? Governance / decision-making process in the area of EU territorial cohesion: should the “Community method” apply to decisions to be made in connection with EU territorial development? How should the subsidiarity principle be applied, with what specific practical implications?
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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