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Structural actions
in support of spatial planning (2000-2006)

Although spatial planning is not the responsibility of the Community, the spatial planning aspect of Community and national policies is nonetheless of paramount importance because all political decisions are implemented in a given territory. For the public opinion, the region and its development are vectors of the coherence of Community policies.

Beginning in the late 80s, this policy area began getting attention. Political reflection has resulted in:

  • the publication of a compendium of spatial planning systems and policies in the European Union;
  • adoption of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) at the Potsdam Council in May 1999 and of its 12 implementing actions at the Tampere Council in October 1999;
  • development of a Study Programme on European Spatial Planning (SPESP).

The Second Report on Economic and Social Cohesion adopted by the European Commission in January 2001 addresses for the first time the issue of territorial cohesion.
Acting in partnership with the Member States, the Commission intends to promote this approach among the public, local and regional officials, enterprises and government through:

  • ESPON (European Spatial Planning Observatory Network), whose aims are to boost the European overview in spatial planning, develop tools for implementation of the ESDP, facilitate coordination between the different regional levels of decision-making and serve as a liaison between policy-makers, government and scientists. The ESPON initiative is supported by the Interreg III programme;
  • The dissemination of regional land use studies;
  • The provision of working papers


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