2. How it all began

There are different stories about the origin or European spatial planning and territorial policy-making depending on the geographical focus, the understanding of the topic and the actor perspective.

Generally, the first CEMAT conference in Bonn in 1970 might be taken as a starting point in the context of the Council of Europe. Thereafter a number of milestones can be identified. Each of them gave the development of the policy field an own specific touch and most of them concentrated on the territory of the European Union:




CEMAT Charter of Torremolinos

At their meeting in Torremolinos, the CEMAT put down its definition of spatial planning and its aims in a broader and interdisciplinary sense. 


Europe 2000

The publication “Europe 2000” by the European Commission Services is a first attempt from the Commission’s side to approach a more territorial view.


Europe 2000+
Following up on the earlier publication, the Commission Services present with “Europe 2000+” another document preparing the way for territorial policies at European level.



The presentation of the Visions and Strategies around the Baltic Sea as trans-national spatial development perspective have inspired the setting-up of trans-national INTERREG co-operations and strategies in Europe.


Leipzig Principles
In the preparation of the ESDP the ministers responsible for spatial planning in the (back than 12) EU Member States agreed at an informal meeting in Leipzig on the basic principles of the ESDP.



With the establishment of INTERREG IIC trans-national co-operation and spatial planning issues become a formal platform and instrument in the EU. This is later continued as INTERREG IIB (2000-2006) and under Structural Funds Objective 3 “Territorial Co-operation” (2007-2013).


European Spatial Planning Compendium
The Commission Services publish a compendium on European spatial planning systems providing an overview on the various approaches to spatial planning within the EU.


Study Programme on European Spatial Planning  (SPESP)
In co-operation with the EU Member States the European Commission Services set up the SPESP as a research network to support European territorial policies between 1998 and 1999.


European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP)

After many years of intergovernmental co-operation the ESDP is finally adopted and presented by the ministers responsible for spatial planning at an informal meeting in Potsdam.


CEMAT Guiding Principles
Following-up the ESDP and broadening the scope to a wider range of European countries, the CEMAT presents Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent in Hanover.



The trans-national co-operation scheme INTERREG IIC is continued and further developed as INTERREG IIIB.


Second Cohesion Report

The Commission Services present the Second Cohesion Report “Unity, solidarity, diversity for Europe, its people and its territory” incl. a series of territorial features and SPESP results.



Following up on the SPESP experience, the European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON) is established to provide territorial evidence for European policy-making covering 29 countries and after 2007 even 31.


Proposal for EU Constitutional Treaty

The debated draft constitutional treaty for the EU has been presented and included among social and economic cohesion also territorial cohesion as an aim for the European Union.


Third Cohesion Report

The Commission Services present the Third Cohesion Report “A new partnership for cohesion. Convergence, competitiveness and cooperation” again incl. a series of territorial features and ESPON results.


Structural Funds Objective 3

The territorial co-operation has been integrated into the mainstream Structural Funds system. INTERREG is continued under Objective 3 “Territorial Co-operation” (2007-2013).


Fourth Cohesion Report

The Commission Services present the Fourth Cohesion Report “Growing regions, growing Europe” again incl. a series of territorial features and ESPON results.


Territorial Agenda and Territorial State and Perspectives

At an informal meeting in Leipzig the ministers responsible for spatial development agreed on the “Territorial Agenda of the EU” and the background evidence document “Territorial State and Perspectives of the EU”.

Considering the character of territorial policies at European level a legitimate question is whether it is not simply “much ado about nothing”. Indeed, focusing on the territorial policies and documents themselves, the effects are often described as agenda setting or discursive integration. Thus it is arguable to which degree Europe makes a difference.