Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

GIS Assessment of Development Gaps among Romanian Administrative Units

Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

GIS Assessment of Development Gaps among Romanian Administrative Units

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

The goals of socioeconomic cohesion changed in the European Union (EU) during the last two decades as a consequence of political changes. The first driver of changes was the Lisbon Strategy (Lisbon European Council, 2000), establishing the ambitious goal to turn the EU economy into the most competitive and dynamic economy based upon knowledge worldwide, providing for increased and better opportunities and enhancing the social cohesion. Consequently, additional environmental objectives were added in 2001 by the Gothenburg Strategy (Goteborg European Council, 2001). EU funds are available to meet these targets based on projects aiming to increase the welfare, and monitored based on complex sets of territorial statistical indicators. The main engine for economic development in Europe is an assessment and monitoring system formed by indicators provided by the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT) and the European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON). In addition, the European Space and Territorial Integration Alternatives (ESTIA) project, part of INTERREG Programs, established a southeastern European branch of ESPON based on an integrated system of territorial indices compatible with ESPON and the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP).

The Romanian research experience includes participation to these projects with contributions aiming to pinpoint a minimal set of 82 indices quantifiable at the level of administrative-territorial units (institutul National de Statistica, 2007), develop regional strategies by using spatial data (INCD Urbanproiect, 2006a) or create a polycentric and well-balanced urban system (INCD Urbanproiect, 2006b), propose a concept of interregional cooperation for the spatial development of the Danube space (Ministry of Construction and Regional Development of the Slovak Republic, 2008), promote new type rural-urban partnerships (INCD Urbanproiect, 2006c), and model medium and long term economic development, by using statistics and forecasts to elaborate governmental programs for development (Popescu, 2004). In 1998, the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Food had implemented a PHARE program resulting into a green book of rural development (Ministerul Agriculturii si Alimentatiei, 1998). The National Plan of Development for 2007-2013 involved a precise evaluation and monitoring of development, compliant with both spatial planning principles and the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS): II, regions of development; III, county; and V, administrative territorial units). According to the European experience, regional development policies cannot be assessed by a single monitoring unit, namely EUROSTAT, regardless of its complexity. The implementation of projects using EU funds resulted into the creation of flexible systems used to monitor their results, such as ESPON. Using a similar reasoning, the Romanian accession to the EU represents the start point of a process consisting of the implementation of both EU-funded projects and flexible spatial planning systems at national, urban and rural levels, aiming to increase the administrative capacity of accessing European funds (structural and cohesion).

Several methods had been used to generate hierarchies of administrative-territorial units and territorial comparisons, particularly useful in order to provide for a balanced and sustainable development of all regions of the country and their dynamics, and analyze the impact of regional policies: the rank method, matrix methods, methods based on the relative distance between the units (Fulop, 2005; Manole, 2007; Stroe and Buciuc, 2008), the ELECTRE--Elimination et choix traduissant la realite--method (Roy, Benayoun and Sussmann, 1966), or the index of development method (Hjollund and Svendsen, 2000). Geographical information Systems (GIS) represent decision support systems involving the integration of spatially referenced data in a problem solving environment (Cowen, 1988; Constantin and Radu, 2008) and had also been extensively used in spatial and urban planning (Petrescu, 2007; Petrisor, 2007). …

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