Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Territorial Cohesion: An Unidentified Political Objective

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Territorial Cohesion: An Unidentified Political Objective

Article excerpt

Introduction to the special issue*

The Constitutional Treaty, now up for ratification, identifies territorial cohesion as one of the goals of the European Union and lists it among the competences shared between the Union and the Member States. While leaving many questions unanswered, the delivery instruments for territorial cohesion policy not being the least important, the Third Cohesion Report of 17 February 2004 also refers to territorial cohesion. This special issue is seeking to cast light on this concept and in particular whether it forms a suitable umbrella for a follow up to the European Spatial Development Perspective. This introduction describes European territorial cohesion policy and discusses its delivery mechanisms. Finally, it introduces the papers of this special issue.

Any residual doubts (Faludi, 2004) dissipate. The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (Conference of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, 2004), now in the process of being ratified, mentions territorial cohesion. Arguably the most important mention is in Part I, Tide I (Definition of the Objectives of the Union), Article 1-3:

(3) The Union shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and with a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. It shall promote scientific and technological advance.

It shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child.

It shall promote economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States.

It shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced.

The enumeration of the competences of the European Union (EU) is novel. (The Treaty establishing the European Community identifies objectives.) Title III enumerates exclusive competences of the EU. Economic, social and territorial cohesion figures in Article I-14, alongside the internal market, social policy, agriculture and fisheries (excluding the conservation of marine biological resources, being an exclusive competence), environment, consumer protection, transport, transEuropean networks, energy, area of freedom, security and justice, common safety concerns in public health matters, as a competence shared between the EU and the individual Member States. Here the so-called Community method applies. The Commission has the sole initiative in law making and policy development proposals. The Council of Ministers and the European Parliament approve these proposals, whereas policy implementation is mainly through the Member States and the Commission with the European Court of Justice monitoring implementation. Thus the competence issue as regards the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) (Faludi and Waterhout, 2002) evaporates. The EU will have the competence to engage, if not in spatial development, then at least in territorial cohesion policy.

A further mention of territorial cohesion is in Part II (The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Union), Title IV (Solidarity), Article II-96 (Access to Services of General Economic Interest) where it says:

The Union recognises and respects access to services of general economic interest as provided for in national laws and practices, in accordance with the Constitution, in order to promote the social and territorial cohesion of the Union.

This relates to Article 122 in Part III (The Politics and Functioning of the Union), Title I (Provisions of General Application). This is the successor of Article 16 in the existing treaty, the first ever to mention territorial cohesion (Faludi, 2004, 1353). …

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