On 15 November 2019, experts and practitioners from the area of spatial planning and regional development talked about how to improve spatial planning methods according to actual needs of citizens and to match the reality with ESI Fund programming in the upcoming funding period and beyond. How can we make sure that city planners and programme authorities understand each other? How can we best introduce the concept of functional areas in spatial perspectives in the Western Balkans?
Matching spatial planning needs with programming requirements or developing dynamic regional strategies beyond administrative borders in rigid governance structures often is like squaring a circle. Spatial planning has a great impact on how we perceive local and regional challenges and defines the means to tackle them. The financial contribution of EU funding and investment can be an effective instrument to develop solutions. However the dynamic and somewhat messy reality of interdependencies and inter-municipal relations does not necessarily match the administrative requirements of EU fund programming. Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI) and Community-led local Development (CLLD) are potentially useful tools, provided local stakeholders have the capacity to make good use of them and programming authorities integrate the outcomes in their programmes.
Reconciling spatial planning and EU fund programming?
The coordination of Priority Area 10 “Institutional Capacity and Cooperation” organised an expert workshop on metropolitan regions in the Danube Region in Prague on 15 November 2019. The workshop took place back-to-back with the ESPON seminar on metropolitan regions and cross-border cooperation functionality.
Experts and practitioners from the Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovakia, and Austria exchanged on successes and failures of spatial planning in a multi-level governance system, challenges to access EU funding for functional urban planning, and what we need to adapt spatial planning perspectives to contribute to better quality of life and prosperity in the Danube Region. The discussion delivered interesting insights, shed light on challenges of planning in multi-level governance systems, and, consequently provided a reality check to ideals of spatial development.
The workshop touched upon common spatial concepts of metropolitan regions, functional urban areas (FUA), and daily urban systems (DUS) and how they are stipulated in the strategies and guidance papers of the OECD and the European Union and strengths and weaknesses of various collaboration structures with a particular focus on the experiences from the Danube Region.
Guidance on functional urban areas in the Danube Region
The results will be integrated in the policy paper on metropolitan regions in the Danube Region that will be published in December 2019. The policy paper is expected to provide strategic guidance on key challenges to tackle in the Danube Region. Furthermore, the policy paper serves as a starting point for further collaborative actions in the area of spatial planning and regional development in the macro-region.
The workshop was organised with support of EuroVienna.