Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Territorial Cohesion Policy in the Light of Peripherality

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Territorial Cohesion Policy in the Light of Peripherality

Article excerpt

The basic task and the underlying ways of thinking in the current European regional policies can be described with key words such as economic competitiveness, regional specialisation and innovations. The current approach is criticised as too narrow, as it puts emphasis on economic issues and on growth centres at the expense of peripheralities. However, there are also signs of a change in the principles of the European spatial development policies. The construction of the territorial cohesion policy has brought the traditional equity-based and holistic approaches back into the discussions about the principles of spatial development. The material explored in the article reveals that peripherality - in its wider meaning - is seen as a significant issue to be handled in the territorial cohesion policy in the making.

Traditionally, the reduction of regional disparities has been seen as a primary goal of regional policy. However, the current European regional development approach has been criticised as too 'economistic' and growth- as well as core-oriented. As an index of this, many countries have focused regional development resources on their most dynamic agglomerations to speed up their economic growth. Thus it seems that the ultimate challenge of regional policies, namely peripheralisation, has gone by the board with the current approach. None the less, there are also signs of a change in the principles of the European regional policy. The Lisbon Treaty (Conference of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, 2007), which came into force in December 2009, defines territorial cohesion as one of the goals of the European Union (EU). Despite the ambiguous meanings, it has seen as a hopeful objective in the light of peripheralities.

The concept of territorial cohesion is said to open new ways for re-conceptualising and measuring peripherality and imbalances (Davoudi, 2007, 93). Those new ways are explored in this article. The main goal is to shed light on many different manifestations of peripherality and to scrutinise how these are dealt with in the European territorial cohesion policy 'in the making'. In other words, how the peripheral regions are catered for in definitions about the content of territorial cohesion policy. The research questions are as follows: What do the European Union's Member States say when they speak about territorial cohesion? Do the Member States' definitions of territorial cohesion policy pay attention to the aspects of peripherality? If so, which dimensions of peripherality do the Member States emphasise? Through these questions, it is also possible to evaluate in addition to the content of the forthcoming territorial cohesion policy whether the dominant principles and ways of thinking in European spatial development policy are in transition.

The article starts by briefly presenting a criticism of current European regional policies. The second part of the article presents the concept of peripherality. The purpose is to demonstrate that peripherality as a multidimensional phenomenon should be at the core of the regional policies. Peripherality, broadly comprehended, would also be a useful concept for defining the content of the territorial cohesion policy under construction. The main messages of the debate about territorial cohesion so far are presented in the third part of the article.

The fourth part of the article examines the empirical material by using the concept of peripherality as a frame of analysis. As peripherality is a very vague concept and often expressed implicitly (Leimgruber, 2004), the basic principle of analysis is to examine first what the Member States say when they speak about territorial cohesion. That is to say, what are the main goals and elements of the territorial cohesion policy and what kind of regions it is meant to focus on? These findings are then considered within the framework of peripherality. The main empirical source of the article is formed by a questionnaire concerning the meaning and possible contents of EU territorial cohesion policy which the European Commission's Regional Policy department (DG Regio) has send to the 27 member states. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.