Recommendation 41 (1998)1 on new prospects for regional/spatial planning policy in greater Europe

The Congress,

1. Recalling the most important texts adopted at the Council of Europe on the subject of regional/spatial planning, and in particular:

- the European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter drawn up by the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT) and adopted in 1984;

- the European Regional Planning Strategy, presented to the CEMAT in 1988;

- CLRAE Recommendation 7 (1994) on Regional/Spatial Planning Prospects in the new Europe;

- CLRAE Resolution 257 (1994) on integrated planning and local development;

- Recommendation 1272 (1995) of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly on a comprehensive European regional planning strategy;

2. Recalling also:

2.1 the results of the “Pan-European Conference on the Role of Regions in European Regional/Spatial Planning”, as enshrined in the Poznan Final Declaration of 5 April 1997, set out in the Appendix, which is an integral part of this recommendation;

3. Considering:

3.1 That the member countries of the European Union are currently adopting a reference framework on the subject in the form of a European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP);

3.2 That the European Regional Planning Strategy requires updating and extension to all 40 member countries of the Council of Europe, particularly to the new member countries which are seeking democratic machinery and structures to use in this area;

3.3 The need, which was also highlighted by the Parliamentary Assembly in its Recommendation 1272 (1995), to draw up a comprehensive European regional/spatial planning strategy in the Council of Europe, which covers all its member countries and thus opens up new horizons and prospects for regional, national and European spatial planning policies and, more generally, for the territorial cohesion of European space as a whole;

3.4 The need to maintain in all territories, efficient public services accessible to all, which is an essential element of territorial cohesion;

4. Observing:

4.1 On the one hand, the current trend towards the excessive concentration of activities and population in the urban central regions, which is compounded by the weakness or even absence of proactive regional/spatial planning policies at a time of economic recession; and on the other hand the need to make use of the development opportunities offered by the outlying regions;

4.2 That a regional/spatial policy both underpins sustainable and environmentally responsible development and is a social instrument for reducing disparities between European regions and for countering the current resurgence of unemployment in several regions;

4.3 That populations must be allowed to adapt to the structural transformations engendered by changes in the economy, and that this requires political authorities to exercise better control over the territorial effects of globalisation and liberalisation of the economy, by striking a balance between the free market and regional planning;

4.4 That the promotion of economic and social cohesion between regions entails the definition at European level of long-term objectives aimed at creating acceptable living conditions for citizens in their place of residence, to avoid aggravating the problems of big cities and their suburbs due to the migration towards cities, and those of rural zones affected by depopulation;

4.5 That the recognition and reinforcement of the competences and responsibilities of local and regional authorities in implementing regional/spatial planning policies should be based on the now universally-recognised principle of subsidiarity;

4.6 That local and regional authorities are the most appropriate levels of government for organising regional/spatial planning with a large democratic base;

4.7 That States should therefore, on the one hand, create regional authorities directly or indirectly democratically elected, equipped with the necessary competencies in this field and with their own financial resources and, on the other hand, provide for financial equalisation;

4.8 That regional and local authorities should use training in regional long-range forecasting, regional planning and integrated sustainable development, and also conduct a systematic study to identify the assets and capabilities of the regions and devise appropriate strategies for regional/spatial development;

5. Highlighting:

5.1 The need to develop consultation and promote the active participation of regional and local authorities, associations and citizens in regional/spatial planning and the attendant democratic representation;

5.2 The fact that changes in the concept of frontiers, and the need to consider territorial units in the light of their economic and social similarities, imply greater use of transfrontier and interregional co-operation as an essential aid to co-ordinating and harmonising regional/spatial planning policies in Europe;

6. Welcomes:

6.1 The understanding reached between the CEMAT on the one hand and the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress on the other, regarding the role and participation of elected bodies in drawing up regional/spatial planning policies and their active participation in the work of the appropriate government bodies of the Council of Europe;

6.2 The proposal to launch a European Conference bringing together persons responsible for regional/spatial planning in the regions, which could help to formulate policies on this subject at national and European level;

7. Recommends that the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning:

7.1 Support the preparation of a pan-European regional planning strategy proposed by the Parliamentary Assembly, which takes into consideration the regions of the new Council of Europe member states, which expands on the principles of the European Spatial Development Perspective and which sets as a final objective territorial cohesion;

7.2 Ensure, through the Congress, that regional and local authorities participate effectively in drawing up the guiding principles for the sustainable and comprehensive development of greater Europe, by organising in 1999 a Forum, in collaboration with the Parliamentary Assembly and the CLRAE, relating to the theme of the 12th CEMAT, due to be held in Hanover in the year 2000;

7.3 Promote the establishment of a pan-European transport network, to give the local and regional authorities of greater Europe, including those in outlying areas, an opportunity to develop their activities, considering that the existence of such a network is an essential condition for well-balanced development and the territorial cohesion of greater Europe;

7.4 Support, by proposing a special programme under Vote IX of the budget of the Council of Europe, the organisation of training courses and exchanges to improve the training of planners and policy makers, given that in some central and east European countries, regional/spatial planning is still in its infancy ;

8. Recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

8.1 To integrate the CEMAT Committee of Senior Officials into the system of Steering Committees of the Council of Europe responsible for carrying out a programme of work, and in particular:

8.2 Launch a regional/spatial planning assistance programme for the central and east European countries, in co-operation with the CEMAT and the Congress, and in co-ordination with the implementation of the Interreg II C initiative, PHARE and TACIS programmes of the Commission of the European Communities, to ensure a real transfer of skills in this area that will also benefit local and regional authorities;

8.3 Ensure that this programme includes an exchange of know-how and the sharing of experience with those central and eastern European countries which so request, particularly by means of partnerships between towns, regions and national ministries;

9. Asks the Institutions of the European Union and recommends in particular:

9.1 that the European Commission intensify co-operation with the CEMAT and the Congress, in particular with regard to the pan-European dimension of the ESDP;

9.2 that the European Parliament intensify co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the subject of the ESDP and of the European Regional Planning Strategy;

10. Recommends that the Governments of the member states of the Council of Europe:

10.1 Promote the development of transfrontier and interregional co-operation by supporting the establishment of intergovernmental commissions in which regions will be represented;

10.2 Set up democratic regional authorities wielding the necessary regional/spatial planning and development powers, or strengthen them where they already exist.

PAN-EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON REGIONAL/SPATIAL PLANNING

Poznan, 3-5 April 1997

FINAL DECLARATION unanimously adopted on 5 April 1997

1. The Pan-European Conference, held in Poznan (Poland) from 3 to 5 April 1997 by the CLRAE, the Association of Polish Cities and the authorities of the City of Poznan to discuss the role of Regions in European regional spatial/planning, has been attended by representatives of the local and regional authorities of Europe and other administrative and government bodies;

2. The participants stress the need for a comprehensive political vision ensuring that the economy is regulated with a view to social, economic, ecological and territorial cohesion; with this in mind, they assert the importance of regional/spatial planning for the balanced and sustainable development of all the Council of Europe's 40 member countries and for European co-operation at local, regional and national level;

3. Draw attention to the relevant texts recently adopted at the Council of Europe:

- by the Parliamentary Assembly: Recommendation 1272 (1995) on a comprehensive European regional planning strategy,

- by the CLRAE: Recommendation 7 (1994) and Resolution 9 (1994) on Regional/Spatial Planning Prospects in the new Europe;

4. Stress the importance of the existence of:

- the European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter drawn up the CEMAT and adopted in 1984 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, as a Recommendation to member governments, and

- the European Regional Planning Strategy presented to the CEMAT in 1988, a first-rate reference document setting the pattern for spatial planning at regional, national and European level;

5. Note that the debate on European regional/spatial planning has developed rapidly over the past few years, particularly in the European Union, whose members are currently adopting a reference framework on the subject in the form of a European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP);

6. Regret that the political authorities do not adequately control the territorial effects of globalisation and liberalisation of the economy; given the scale of those effects, they ask - by analogy with practice in environmental matters - that major European and national policies be subject to prior territorial impact studies and subsequent assessment studies in the light of the general aim of social and territorial cohesion;

7. Take note of the Parliamentary Assembly's proposals to draw up in the Council of Europe a comprehensive European regional/spatial planning strategy covering all its member countries and thus opening up new horizons and prospects for regional, national and European spatial planning policies;

8. Stress that all national and European regional/spatial planning policies should be based on the principles established in the Council of Europe's European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter, which will also be relevant at local and regional level. The framing of sectorial policies and the application of the Charter in terms of specific policies should follow the Recommendations by the various Council of Europe bodies and combined in the European Regional Planning Strategy;

9. Given the importance of this reference document, particularly for the new member countries of the Council of Europe seeking democratic machinery and structures to use in this area, they request that it be updated and extended to all 40 member countries of the Council of Europe;

10. Considering that regional/spatial planning may not only be regarded as a means of reducing disparities between European regions, but may also help to counter the current resurgence of unemployment;

11. Are convinced that in order to pursue an effective regional/spatial planning policy, States must have regions with the necessary powers in this area which requires the establishment of democratically elected regional authorities and machinery for equalisation of resources;

12. Convinced that recognition of the responsibilities of local and regional authorities in implementing regional/spatial planning policies is grounded on the now universally recognised principle of subsidiarity;

13. Underline the importance of long-range spatial forecasting which entails identifying the assets and capabilities of a region and devising the appropriate strategies for its regional/spatial development; this presupposes that local and regional authorities should learn the techniques for long-range forecasting, regional planning and integrated sustainable development;

14. Consider that a European regional/spatial planning strategy should take account of the advantages of a more balanced development of the continent by controlling, on the one hand, the excessive concentration of activities and population in the central regions more effectively, and enhancing, on the other, the development opportunities offered by the peripheral regions;

15. Stress the need to develop active consultation and participation of local authorities, citizens, land owners and other interested groups in regional/spatial planning and the attendant democratic representation and observe that local and regional authorities which are closest to the citizens are both the most appropriate levels of government to organise the democratic regional/spatial planning process and also the levels where spatial planning from grass-roots and regional planning can be most effectively co-ordinated;

16. Stress that transfrontier and interregional co-operation is an essential aid to co-ordinating and harmonising regional/spatial planning policies in Europe;

17. Point out that it is essential to prepare Europe's future and allow people to adapt to the structural transformations engendered by changes in the world economy, and reassert that promoting social and economic cohesion between the regions demands the definition at European level of long-term objectives based on a deliberate policy aiming at common European values and a shared idea of the future, which will be able to control the effects of globalisation on people's living conditions at local level.

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The participants:

18. Propose that the Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the Council of Europe, who will be meeting in October this year, step up the Council's action in keeping with the aims of its Statute and with a view to social and territorial cohesion throughout greater Europe; in this context they draw attention to the links between the principle of territorial cohesion and equality between citizens, which lie at the heart of the basic founding principles of the Council of Europe; it is essential for this purpose to reactivate political dialogue by organising political colloquies between the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning and the elected representatives representing the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, in order to:

- frame a pan-European regional/spatial planning strategy which will take account of the regions in the new member countries of the Council of Europe and be an element to incorporate into the European Spatial Development Perspective;

- ensure that the regions and local authorities participate effectively in the framing of the guiding principles for the comprehensive and sustainable spatial development of greater Europe;

19. Stress the need to set up a pan-European communication and high-speed transport network and propose that a conference on the subject be held in a central or east European country to give the local and regional authorities of greater Europe, including those of its periphery, an opportunity to put their proposals to the national and European authorities and especially to the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT);

20. Stress the need to put demands of territorial cohesion to the authorities in charge of transport planning, notably at European level, and to that end ask firstly that co-operation be established at last between the CEMAT and ECMT and secondly that ECMT invite the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe to send representatives to its meetings;

21. Consider that in some central and east European countries, regional/spatial planning is still in its infancy and that it is urgent to arrange training courses and specialist exchanges to improve the training of the planners and policy makers concerned;

22. Also take account of the Recommendations of the Spatial Planning Chapter of the United Nations' Agenda 21, aiming at sustainable spatial planning which respects the environment and takes account of the social dimension;

23. Therefore propose that the Council of Europe:

- launch a regional/spatial planning assistance programme for the central and east European countries, in good co-ordination with the implementation of the Interreg II C Community Initiative of the European Commission, ensuring a real transfer of skills in this area which will also benefit local and regional authorities;

- promote an exchange of know-how and experiences, with central and eastern European countries which request it, particularly by means of partnerships between towns, regions and national ministries;

- look into the need and possibility of setting up a European spatial planning training centre which would act as a think tank and training facility for elected representatives and staff;

- consider the possibility of setting up an "Observatory of Social and Territorial Cohesion in Europe;

- intensify co-operation with the institutions of the European Union at all levels, in particular the Council of Ministers, the Commission, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee;

24. Recommend that national governments and local and regional authorities make use of legal co-operation instruments such as the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities and its Protocol, the model agreements on the establishment of bilateral transfrontier commissions on regional/spatial planning at national and regional level and the technical assistance programme on transfrontier co-operation set up by the Council of Europe for the central and east European countries;

25. Invite the governments to promote the development of transfrontier and interregional co-operation by supporting the establishment of commissions responsible for this co-operation;

26. Invite those countries which have not yet done so, particularly in central and eastern Europe, to set up democratic regional authorities wielding the necessary regional/spatial planning and development powers;

27. Solemnly declare that understanding between peoples and social harmony can be created and sustained only in a context of tolerance and social justice directly linked to balanced and evenly distributed development throughout all European regions.

1 Debated by the Congress and adopted on 27 May 1998, 2nd sitting (see document CG(5)9, draft Recommendation presented by Mr Kieres and Mr Savy, Rapporteurs)

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