Publication: Spatial planning policies and the integration models as a mean for a better delivery of services of general interest
The provision of services of general interest (SGI) is a competence of authorities at different governance levels. Until now, public administrations and the service providers, tend to have a strictly sectorial approach to the SGI delivery, leading to incomprehensive, isolated solutions. This causes a mismatch between the people’s needs and the services provision. Furthermore, it contradicts the EU efforts for a territorial and social cohesion. Additionally, in the times of austerity, the public funds limitation especially affects the remote mountain territories and border areas. Harsh (local) economic conditions (fewer jobs), population ageing, dispersed settlement, and the geomorphology hinder the provision and supply of the SGI in these territories. To overcome this deficiency, new approaches of the SGI provision should be sought and identified. Therefore, hereby spatial planning and sectorial policies and the related models of integration (sectors, actors, funds, services, policies etc.) are investigated. The paper builds on the research done in the transnational project INTESI (Integrated Territorial Strategies for Services of General Interest). The analysis of the coverage of SGI in the spatial planning, and other (space related) sectoral policies documents (regulations, strategies, plans, guidelines, etc.) was done in five Alpine countries (Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France, and Slovenia). The aim was to find out if the integration of the policies (or measures) for the SGI provision is already present in these documents, to what extent, and what the problems that need to be addressed are. In addition to the seven sectors (regional development, transport, telecommunication, basic goods, health care, social care, and education), relevant “umbrella” regulations (e.g. the constitutions, state laws on delivery of SGI, etc.) have been inspected for each country. The integration models and their elements have been investigated considering the authorities, administrative levels, actors, funds, etc. Altogether, 257 documents have been reviewed. The analysis revealed the level of integration in the Alpine Space is moderate. The integrated solutions mostly occur between the following sectors: health and telecommunication, health and social care, and basic goods and telecommunication (e.g. post offices in grocery shops). The analysis also showed that to some extent countries secure the SGI by the same means, according to the EU common marker regulations. However, looking into more details, there are differences among them. For example, in comparison to the other Alpine countries, the SGI provision in Switzerland is, in terms of the time and distance accessibility, very strictly and in detail regulated. In relation to the identified gaps, the study reveals these could be solved by adapting the existing spatial (national, regional) strategies and plans, as some of the examined documents (e.g. transport and telecommunication policies) do not even address the SGI provision as a topic of spatial planning. To enable a better SGI supply and delivery, the implementation of the integration models should urgently be considered to link the following sectors and services: (public) transport with all the other inspected sectors, and the telecommunication with the health/social care, basic goods and education.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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