European spatial governance –
towards a sectoralisation of
Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Purpose –European spatialgovernance underwent substantial changesover the past two decades with the
expansion of European territorial cooperation programmes, the introduction of new instruments for
cooperation and an increasing role of ﬁnancial and regulatory framework in sector policies. Against this
background the paper develops the argument that today’s European spatial governance has become more
diversiﬁed and fragmented,leading to an increasing role for sector policies,and that the cumulative effect of
these diverseactivities on domestic planning processes are underresearched.
Design/methodology/approach –This paper summarisesthe legal recognition of spatial planning and
categorises European spatial governance as being composed of spatial policies, ﬁnancial instruments and
governance frameworks. This paper then presents three explorative case studies: the Common Transport
policy as one European Union (EU) sector policy, a cross-border cooperation supported by the European
RegionalDevelopment Fund and macro-regional cooperation.
Findings –This paper concludes that the increasingregulatory impact of European spatial governance on
domestic spatial planning goes far beyondthe pure Europeanisation of narratives and agendas or “ways of
doing things”. Furthermore, this paper illustrates that European spatial governance is characterised by a
process of sectoralisation,supported by the EU’s regional policy and the provision of governancetools. The
paper calls for further investigationof the interrelatedness of these processesand their reciprocal inﬂuences
Originality/value –The value lies in recognising the incremental changes that have come alongside
European integration, and highlighting the importance of these processes for domestic planning processes.
This paper highlightsthe hidden process of sectoralisation thatleads to an increase in planning competences
at the European level.
Keywords Spatial planning, Europeanisation, European spatial governance,
European territorial cooperation, Macro-regions, Sector policies
Paper type Research paper
European spatial governancehas undergone change over the past two decades. Such change
has affected, and been inﬂuenced by, European Union (EU) urban and regional policy, the
structural funds and a range of EU sectoral policies. Some of the most prominent changes
leading to a new landscape of territorial politics include the expansion of European
Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes as a result of the Eastern enlargement, the
introduction of new instruments for territorial cooperation (namely, macro-regions and
European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation [EGTCs]) and an increase in ﬁnancial and
The author thanks the British Academy and the Royal Society for the British Newton International
Fellowship, which provided background to this paper.
Received19 March 2018
Accepted9 May 2018
Journalof Property, Planning and
Vol.10 No. 2, 2018
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