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Keywords:

  • Territorial cohesion;
  • spatial planning;
  • scenarios;
  • Lisbon strategy;
  • European Union;
  • ESPON

ABSTRACT

From a strictly legal point of view, the European Union does not have authority to carry out spatial planning. The closest thing resembling a spatial policy is the outdated and unofficial European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP). The inclusion of the term ‘territorial cohesion’ in the Reform Treaty has created new opportunities for proponents of European spatial planning. Despite wide political support for the concept, there is still little consensus on its actual meaning. The purpose of this paper is to take stock of this curious situation. This is done by raising some fundamental issues. Does a ‘planning subject’ and ‘planning object’ exist in Europe? What different interpretations of territorial cohesion are there, and what implications could this have? These issues are investigated further by means of a recent ESPON study which produced several policy-oriented spatial scenarios. Ultimately, the lack of a precise definition of territorial cohesion may prove to be advantageous.