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Karsten Zimmermann and Rob Atkinson

Since the Urban Pilot Projects in the early 1990s to the Pact of Amsterdam cities have been part of ECP and much has been written on the relationship between ECP and cities. We will briefly summarize this process, highlighting the discursive shift from an anti-poverty agenda to broader concerns about territorial cohesion and the place-based approach. The focus of the chapter will take an instrumental view of the role of cities in ECP. While cities may be an instrument of territorial cohesion the wider implications for Europe’s urban structure have not been discussed at length and there has been a tendency to focus on larger cities. By ignoring small and medium-sized cities, the EU Urban Policy has rather than enhancing territorial cohesion (and economic and social cohesion) exacerbated existing tendencies towards territorial inequalities.

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Valeria Fedeli and Karsten Zimmermann

Urban Agendas are en vogue, in particular in the sphere of international relations. This can be easily shown by referring to EU Urban Agenda or the New Urban Agenda of the United Nations. Against this background, it’s remarkable that national urban policies found only scant attention in the scholarly literature. In fact, we observe a range of changes in national urban policies that shed a different light on what is generally called an urban renaissance. In this introduction to an academic companion on national urban policies in Europe, we present the major arguments und questions to be addressed in the contributions to the book.

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Hubert Heinelt and Karsten Zimmermann

In a federal state like Germany, national urban policies are clearly shared and contested between state governments (Länder) and the federal government. As a result, no coherent or comprehensive national strategy exists for cities or urban development, although some policy documents published in recent years may give this impression. There is no clear priority for cities in national politics, as the legislative competence for local government forms part of the sovereign rights of the 16 Länder. In addition, a higher profile for national urban policies would raise the issue of an urban-rural divide. On the other hand, state governments and the federal level share funding schemes for urban regeneration which constitute the most important pillar of national urban policy in Germany. These funding schemes have turned out to provide very reliable support for cities over a period of almost 50 years.

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Karsten Zimmermann and Valeria Fedeli

The chapter takes a comparative view on the contributions to this volume. As a result, the commonalities with regard the evolution, goals and instruments of national urban policies in the countries presented in this book seem rather low. A second result refers to the variegating quality of national urban policies. All authors evaluated the policies against an ideal of integrated and/or complex or strategic intervention in cities or neighborhoods, mostly for the purpose of urban regeneration. Actually, most national urban initiatives do not meet these requirements but look at cross-sectoral and place-based urban policies as a problem of inter-institutional coordination. A final result is the re-orientation of urban policies in some countries in direction of a disentanglement of national urban policies from the “urban” understood as the dense European city, towards new form of urbanization (diffuse city suburbanization, urban regions and agglomerations, peripheries). As a consequence, national urban policies are increasingly detached from what we used to call an “urban renaissance”.

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Edited by Karsten Zimmermann and Valeria Fedeli

Written in a clear and concise style, this Modern Guide provide a timely overview and comparison of urban challenges and national urban policies in 13 European countries, addressing key issues such as housing, urban regeneration and climate change. A team of international contributors explore the gap between the rise of international urban agendas and variegated national urban policies, examining whether a more bespoke approach is better than the traditional ‘one size fits all’.
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Hubert Heinelt and Karsten Zimmermann

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Rob Atkinson and Karsten Zimmermann

Since the early 1990s the European Commission has launched several urban initiatives that were considered to be part of Cohesion policy. Initiatives such as URBAN I and URBAN II are widely accepted as successful urban programmes that helped cities to cope with challenges such as social exclusion and regeneration of deprived areas. The authors e argue that although the notion of Integrated Sustainable Urban Development is prominent in the current Cohesion policy programmes and a predefined share of each member state’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding must be invested in urban areas, the urban dimension has become somewhat blurred. It remains to be seen whether the new instruments that are thought to provide for better coordination of sectorial policy and more ‘focused urban spending’ are implemented by the member states.

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Rob Atkinson and Karsten Zimmermann

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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Valeria Fedeli, Juliet Carpenter and Karsten Zimmermann

This chapter aims to provide a critical exploration of whether or not there is a common understanding of urban policy within the EU Member States, and if so, what role the European Union has played in its development over the past 30 years. In order to address this aim, the chapter provides a critical remapping of the development of national urban policy in different member states, examining them through the lens of the debate on Europeanisation. In so doing, it tries to understand to what extent the field of urban policy has revealed itself permeable to the development of the EU integration project. The chapter then examines the new EU Urban Agenda as a model to address urban challenges, in particular, exploring the integrated sustainable urban development model (ISUD). It concludes with some reflections on the new approach proposed through the EU Urban Agenda, as something that could become crucial for national states to renew their role in the field of urban policy.