Handbook of European Policies
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Handbook of European Policies

Interpretive Approaches to the EU

Edited by Hubert Heinelt and Sybille Münch

This definitive Handbook addresses the current lack of research into European policymaking and development using an interpretive perspective. Questioning areas that mainstream approaches tend to neglect, contributors target the ways in which ideas, arguments and discourses shape policies in the institutional context of the EU.
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Chapter 8: European spatial planning policy

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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