This chapter argues there has been a growing interest in spatial planning across Europe and that its roots lie in the planning systems and practices of a number of North-Western European countries, most notably France, Germany and the Netherlands. At the EU level, spatial planning became synonymous with the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), a non-binding intergovernmental document agreed between member states in 1999, reflecting the lack of any specific legal competence to justify Community actions in this sphere. This means that it is difficult to trace direct relationships between European Spatial Planning and the ESDP and particular policies and outcomes. Despite this we argue one should not underestimate its impact at European and national levels through its influence on the structural funds and its recent articulation with territorial development and the associated notion of territorial cohesion now included in the Consolidated Treaty of European Union.
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