Spatial development principles for the European continent

The principles proposed here are intended as direct opposition to the conservative principles of the European Commission's European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), and of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT). At this website there is a summary of the history and background of both proposals. The final version of the CEMAT plan was approved in Hannover on 8 September 2000, the quotes here are from a previous draft version. Both proposals are summarised by theme, and for each theme innovative principles are proposed. Written 2000, some later revisions.

History of the CEMAT and ESDP proposals

1999: the ESDP

EU ministers responsible for spatial planning have been meeting for several years to co-ordinate policy. The last was in Tampere in October 1999. These meetings are informal and the 'co-ordination' is limited: the EU has no powers to make an 'European Plan' of any kind. It can only supplement or reinforce national policies. Nevertheless, a meeting in Leipzig in 1994 established general principles for spatial development. Based on these principles, a draft European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) was agreed in 1997. A final version was approved at Potsdam in May 1999: it is online at the Inforegio site:

Final version of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) adopted by the informal European Council of EU Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning in Potsdam on the 10-11 of May 1999

The Netherlands held the EU Presidency when the first draft ESDP was approved, and some of the approaches and concepts are clearly derived from current planning politics in the Netherlands. They include large-ecological networks, the choice for restoration ecology ('new nature'), and the emphasis on polycentric city networks.

2000: the CEMAT Guiding Principles

The ESDP concerns EU territory only. At the Council of Europe, a committee of planning ministers (CEMAT) has prepared a similar document. It was approved at the CEMAT conference on 7-8 September 2000, during Expo 2000 in Hannover, and is also known as the Hannover Document. It states guidelines for the spatial planning of the entire continent of Europe - the first official document to ever do this.

Guiding principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent

The principles of the ESDP will be incorporated into it: other words the ESDP 'fits inside' the CEMAT guidelines. Some other inter-governmental spatial planing declarations are included (for the Benelux, the Baltic Sea, the Danubian region). Like the EU, the Council of Europe has no formal planning powers, and the CEMAT is a conference of ministers from nation states, which all have national plans of some kind. So like the ESDP, the CEMAT 'plan' too, can only supplement or reinforce national policies, never oppose or contradict them. The extracts at this site are from a report of the meeting of the Committee of senior officials of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT) held on March 12 1999 in Strasbourg: Council of Europe document MAT-12-HF-22. It has two sections: a political document for ministerial approval, and a background technical section elaborating that. Most sections in the 'Political Document' are duplicated in the 'Background Document'.

Innovative answers

Both the CEMAT and ESDP represent conservatism: compromise with them is impossible. Only a complete alternative - in terms of structure, personnel, ethics, principles, and proposals - can make any difference. Anything less, would mean acceptance of the conservative philosophy of both documents. Such an innovative alternative is presented for each section below - without regard to its feasibility in the current social, political and geopolitical structures.

However, a lot can be said already, in a very simple way. The ESDP and the Hannover document, and much related EU policy, would be greatly improved if these seven simple principles were adopted:

  • there are enough roads in Europe, and enough cars
  • there is enough nature in Europe
  • there are enough parks in Europe
  • there is enough heritage in Europe
  • there is enough culture in Europe
  • there are enough museums in Europe
  • there are enough businesses and entrepreneurs in Europe

Who wrote the CEMAT and ESDP proposals, and how?

Neither document can be understood without considering the closed and elitist process in producing them. The personal intolerance and limited world-view of the authors were a major factor in determining the content of the ESDP, perhaps less so in the CEMAT proposals. Both documents have a clear anti-immigrant undertone.


The European Spatial Development Perspective was unjustly formulated, by an specialist elite largely drawn from national spatial/regional planning elites. The process was closed, accessible only to an elite, and therefore selective. Given the general background of planning education, those involved over-represent male non-migrants, from middle to high social class, in each member state.

Because of this, the process over-represents those who are satisfied with the existing social and spatial order. Inherently this tends to produce a conservative document - even aside from the institutional prejudices of the EU. The formal rejection of alternative scenarios is one aspect of this - no alternative scenarios were ever evaluated. The ESDP relies on academic or expert status to legitimise its limited view.


The CEMAT document is more a ministerial document than the ESDP. The CEMAT itself is a committee of ministers, and political preferences entered the process more directly. However, like the ESDP, the CEMAT document was prepared by a closed elite in conditions of semi-secrecy. No draft version was ever published.

In the case of EU member states, the same officials were almost certainly involved in the preparation of both documents. However, the politicians at ministerial level are accessible, if not to individuals, at least to lobbyists. The CEMAT document shows the influence of at least three lobbies: free-trade liberalism, the European nature lobby, and conservative rural parties. (In eastern Europe, several of the Peasant Parties of the 1920's and 1930's, were re-established after 1989. A Council of Europe seminar on rural areas, held in Ljubljana in 1998, is the probable route to their influence on the CEMAT).

From conservatism to innovation

The best way to see the deep conservatism of the ESDP and CEMAT authors is to look at the range of alternative scenarios for the spatial future of Europe. The authors of both documents come from an extremely restricted range of backgrounds, in terms of social class parent's occupation, school and university, range of employment, and career. In short, they are extremely narrow-minded people, who react with horror to anything which is outside their own limited experience. It is no surprise, that such a group is unable to consider a range of alternative scenarios. These examples of excluded scenarios are not exhaustive...
  • religious state formation: for instance restoration of the Papal States, as proposed in Italy some years ago
  • deliberately accelerated migration, subsidised internal migration
  • non-transgenerational Europe, and heritage-free space
  • a deliberately unsustainable Europe - or in comparison, extreme restoration ecology
  • an Islamic Europe: what would that produce in terms of spatial structure?
  • the removal of the spatial patterns specifically attributable to nationalism
  • a 'Eurostate Europe': specifically European spatial structures
  • a car-free Europe.
The group responsible for the CEMAT and ESDP proposals are incapable of preparing an innovative document, and do not want to do that anyway.

CEMAT and ESDP objectives

Both documents avoid explicit ethical issues - implicitly accepting the existing order. For instance, spatial justice is not listed as a goal, nor is its relationship to other goals considered. In the ESDP, a quarter of EU territory reserved for 'natural heritage', but none at all for justice, or equality, or any other moral value. Such omissions often say more about the underlying values, than the explicitly stated policy aims. The core values of both documents are not necessarily those explicitly stated.


The ESDP speaks of a "triangle of objectives": economic and social cohesion, conservation of natural resources and cultural heritage, and a more balanced competitiveness of European territory. It includes three clusters of ESDP policy guidelines...
  • development of a balanced and polycentric city system and a new urban-rural relationship
  • securing parity of access to infrastructure and knowledge
  • sustainable development, prudent management and protection of nature and cultural heritage
Translated into probable futures, this implies a vision of a Europe as a low-density suburb with some high-density service-sector concentrations ('edge cities'), with much new road construction. It implies a social vision similar to that of Tony Blair's Third Way - an educational-meritocratic Europe in which society is an arena of competition between talent. It implies an underlying tendency to 'Europe as a heritage park'.


The CEMAT document gives examples of fundamental objectives:
  • Enhancing regional identity and diversity, as a powerful element for social cohesion and regional development
  • Promoting balanced socio-economic development of the regions and reducing the propensity for long-distance migration.
  • Promoting qualitative spatial order to increase the the competitiveness and attractiveness of regions.
Taken together, this implies both a strategy of inter-regional competition to attract inward investment, and a traditionalist heritage culture, in each of these regions. The anti-migration attitude was already evident in the ESDP. The CEMAT evidently wants to block or reverse the trend to less border controls: it has a racist undertone.

Another section of the CEMAT Political Document deals with the spatial objectives - the real planners and geographers material. Unfortunately it does no more than restate a number of unoriginal planning cliches. Europe is to have more parks, more roads, more heritage and more Internet. The list of objectives...

  • Promoting development impulses generated by urban functions and better urban-rural relationships
  • Creating better balanced conditions of accessibility...better connecting the rural areas with the main axes...and through elimination of missing links
  • Developing access to information and knowledge...improvements should be made in telecommunications networks
  • Containing and reducing environmental damages
  • Enhancing and protecting natural resources and heritage...reconstitution of ecological networks...landscape protection, management and planning
  • Enhancing cultural heritage as a development factor
  • Developing energy resources while ensuring security...completing the energy transport networks at pan-European level...organising the transport of energy from the Caspian region and from Eastern Russia into Europe

Innovative objectives

The tasks of spatial planning are:
  • to provide the spatial conditions for innovation
  • to spatially segregate innovation from the forces of conservatism
  • to counter the traditional Christian-humanist-liberal values of Europe

  • to cut the links (of memory, tradition and heritage), which tie Europe to the past
  • to limit transgenerational community, and especially national community
  • to break up conservative communities with traditional identities linked to a specific place (Heimat)

  • to destroy the specific spatial structures associated with the nation state
  • to create the spatial conditions for individual and group secession from the nation state (as a state form), and to facilitate the formation of innovative types of state

  • to counter the effects of market forces
  • to reduce the size and spatial effects of the 'transaction-costs sector' in market economies, especially the inflated financial services sector

  • to end the Atlantic orientation of Europe, which is historically associated with the global dominance of the United States

  • to counter the spatial effects of elite power
  • to redistribute wealth and income, especially by income transfers to eastern Europe

  • to facilitate 'continental design' for Europe (this term is an analogy with the term 'urban design').

CEMAT and ESDP on urban futures

Both documents promote a polycentric urban system and a new rural-urban relationship: this is a passive acceptance of existing trends. In effect the strategy is: low density greenfield development, clustered around gentrified 'heritage cores' in small towns and cities; dispersal of population from large cities into surrounding regions on this pattern; and a definitive switch to the car as the 'European mode of transport'.

Both promote a balanced structure of cities, but without operational criteria for 'balance' - in practice it seems to mean urban dispersal (suburban and post-suburban). Similarly, the ESDP goal of parity of access to infrastructure fails to define which infrastructure. As EU regional funding shows, 'accessibility' almost always translates into 'new roads'.


In the final version of the ESDP, one of the three policy aims is:
  • ...development of a balanced and polycentric city system and a new urban-rural relationship
This is split up into several "policy options" Some of these are contradictory, but they represent the interests of various lobbies on the EU.
  1. Strengthening of several larger zones of global economic integration in the EU, equipped with high-quality, global functions and services, including the peripheral areas, through transnational spatial development strategies.
  2. Strengthening a polycentric and more balanced system of metropolitan regions, city clusters and city networks through closer co-operation between structural policy and the policy on the Trans-European Networks (TENs) and improvement of the links between international/national and regional/local transport networks.
  3. Promoting integrated spatial development strategies for city clusters in individual Member States, within the framework of transnational and cross-border co-operation, including corresponding rural areas and their small cities and towns.
  4. Strengthening co-operation on particular topics in the field of spatial development through cross-border and transnational networks.
  5. Promoting co-operation at regional, cross-border and transnational level; with towns and cities in the countries of Northern, Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean region; strengthening North-South links in Central and Eastern Europe and West-East links in Northern Europe.
The ESDP makes a distinction between the metropolitan regions in the core, which it defines in section 3.2.1 as the Pentagon London-Paris-Milan-Munich-Hamburg, and other cities. The ESDP advocates several new pseudo-cores
  • The concept of polycentric development has to be pursued, to ensure regionally several dynamic zones of global economic integration, well distributed throughout the EU territory and comprising a network of internationally accessible metropolitan regions and their linked hinterland


The CEMAT also speaks of polycentric urban development. However, the most important proposal is a strategy of elite cities, the 'gateway cities'. The present inequalities of development give Europe a core-and-periphery structure. CEMAT wants to replace this with concentration of growth in a limited number of 'gateway cities' organised in a network. (Note that this term is used somewhat differently than in the ESDP, where it is equivalent to 'port' or 'hub'). The CEMAT explicitly links this model to a neoliberal view of global development:
  • ...a number of significant growth areas organised as urban networks, generating dynamism and external economies to attract further investments...ensuring connections and exchanges with other continents or world regions...
The list of maps at the end of the draft document included a proposed map of the gateway cities and main intercontinental hubs. In effect, the list of gateway cities is a list of cities with a future - not being on the list, implies second-class status. Evidently that was too painful a decision: the map was deleted in the final version.

Summary: innovative principles for urban policy

The entire urban strategy of both the CEMAT and ESDP should be abandoned, in favour of a rigorous policy of increasing urban residential densities, new rail construction, and new 'ideal cities'. Urban residential densities in Europe are far too low: city-centre residential densities should equal those of central Paris. Experiments should be started with raising this density by a factor ten in some cases: this in itself implies the construction of new cities. Some new cities should be constructed, as a goal in itself. They should be 'ideal cities' in the sense of being designed, not emerging as the product of democratic or market forces. These projects should be exempt from veto by democratic processes: it is not acceptable, that democracy should block experiment or innovation. Cities are for change, not for people.

CEMAT and ESDP on the nation state

Neither document questions the territorial claim of nation states.


The ESDP repeats standard EU policy on the priority of the nation state. Section 1.4 states that the ESDP will respect subsidiarity, and that each country need only apply it if it wants to do so. It is explicitly declared to be non-binding.

Part A, Section 4.3, restates the division into transnational regions already used for regional policy in the INTERREG programme. These are 'category regions', clusters of local government areas with similar characteristics, rather than economic or political units. For the EU they are politically acceptable: unlike regionalist secessionism, they are no threat to the nation state. The INTERREG regions include for instance North Sea and Baltic Sea regions, and the Central European, Adriatic, Danubian and South-Eastern European Space (CADSES).


The Council of Europe also respects the sovereignty of member states, but allows more room for regionalist aspirations. The CEMAT background document, Section A2.1, is more explicit in its regionalism than the Political Document:
  • ...the promotion of regional diversity is necessary to counteract the uniformisation trends related to the process of European integration.
Note that supporters of a 'Europe of the Nation States' would insert 'national diversity' here, instead of 'regional diversity'. However, the proposal indicates a possible joint lobby, where traditionalist 'community' is presented as the only alternative to a a fully commercialised society. By fostering a heritage identity at regional level, the CEMAT might claim it was 'mitigating the effects' of neoliberal polices. However the result would be a traditionalist-liberal Europe.

Innovative principles on nation states

Nation states should be abolished.

The nation state is not a legitimate form of state, and no single nation state is a legitimate state. The member states of the EU and the Council of Europe are therefore not legitimate states: they should be replaced by a new geopolitical order in Europe. This replacement is a spatial planning issue in itself. There should be no substitution of existing nation states by similar entities, at either a smaller or larger scale. No spatial policy should enforce any national, regional or local community.

CEMAT and ESDP on migration

Both documents are influenced by the anti-immigrant right: they treat migration as inherently wrong, something to be avoided.


In the Regional Development Studies of the European Commission migration (at least, out-migration from declining areas) is seen in extremely negative terms (these studies preceded the ESDP). The 1999 version of the ESDP itself says in Part B, Section 2.2.1:
  • In many rural areas in the peripheral regions of the EU, migration threatens the viability of public and private services
However the ESDP does not have the sharp anti-migration tone of the CEMAT document. It does acknowledge the demographic reality, that net immigration is now the source of EU population growth (Part B, section 1.2).


The CEMAT background document, Section A4.2, has the most specific statement on an anti-migration policy - directed primarily against eastern Europe. It wants to keep the agricultural population in rural areas, and avoid "undesirable massive long-distance migration". The CEMAT goes further than the ESDP in explicitly proposing to reduce migration, especially in objective A2.2:
  • In promoting balanced socio-economic development, spatial planning has an important part to play to counteract the propensity for long-distance migration. Significant long-distance population movements have destabilising influence in the field of social structure and cohesion, both for the area they are leaving and for the region or country into which they are moving...It is necessary to...ensure that European citizens are able to live in their countries and regions of origin....
Anti-immigration parties in western Europe, and traditionalist parties in eastern Europe, could indeed combine to oppose out-migration from eastern Europe. However, the strategy of small-scale rural development proposed by the CEMAT, will probably not influence migration flows anyway. In most rural areas in Europe, an absolute decline in rural population is already the norm.

Innovative principles on migration

Long-distance migration in Europe is not wrong: it should be encouraged, as a way of breaking up the nation states. Out-migration from rural areas should generally be assisted, in areas with majority rural population. If long-distance population movements have a "destabilising influence" on conservative rural areas, then that is a reason to support them. Priority for migrants in employment should be used to encourage migration.

The reality of extreme long-term population decline should be recognised. Immigration of hundreds of millions of people from Africa and Asia would be necessary, even to preserve Europe's share of world population for the next century. Long-term trends indicate a future, in which the entire European continent has less people than Pakistan or Nigeria.

CEMAT and ESDP: liberal spatial policies

Two foundational principles of liberalism recur in both documents. Liberal philosophy is pro-emergent and anti-utopian.

The term 'emergent' (popular among cyber-liberals), indicates a world which is entirely the result of process within certain parameters. The free market is such a liberal structure. For market liberals, the world should be the product of market forces: nothing should exist which is not the product of market forces. Political liberalism applies a similar restriction to any world which is not the result of the free exchange of opinion. A world which is not the result of any process, but which has been 'designed' is unacceptable for purist liberalism: it is rigorously anti-utopian. Cold War liberal philosophers saw planning, utopia, and totalitarianism as equivalent. This liberal anti-utopianism is also present in both documents. More specifically, both are characterised by a passive acceptance of the spatial effects of the free market. They both repeatedly claim that Europe must be run on neoliberal principles, such as competitiveness in a neoliberal global economy. Both promote support for business and the entrepreneur.


Part B of the ESDP, Section 1.1, opens by comparing the EU to MERCOSUR, which it describes as a "developing economic alliance". This is the neoliberal view of the nature of the EU, the view favoured especially by Britain, and it is the dominant view in the ESDP. In section 3.2.1, the ESDP states that
  • The greater competitiveness of the EU on a global scale demands a stronger integration of the European regions into the global economy.
Internally, also, the ESDP treats Europe as a market. For instance the policy aims on rural areas , section 3.2.3, says that
  • ...only regions can form labour, information and communication markets. The region is therefore, the appropriate level for action...
This language underlies that the ESDP view of society is essentially a free market: this view is correctly described as neoliberal.


The second 'continental issue' in the CEMAT document specifies the identity of Europe, as a trading block comparable to Mercosur, NAFTA and ASEAN. It specifies the primary direction of its trade: with Asia and the Middle East. It calls for "new exchange corridors" in Russia, the countries bordering the Black Sea, and Greece (this apparently means the Transcaspian pipelines, which analysts consider of great geostrategic importance).

Innovative anti-liberalism

Contra-emergent and neo-utopian principles oppose the philosophical foundations of liberalism.

There should be ideal cities and ideal regions in Europe. Ideal means that they are the product of ideals, not of market forces or democratic process. No such ideal city should be subject to veto or delay by market forces, or by force of argument in any liberal-democratic process.

Conversely, no spatial structure should exist in Europe which is the product of market forces. The market should not be specifically facilitated by any spatial policy. Europe should be protected from market forces deriving from external free-market economies. Trade in sectors associated with a neoliberal model of global economy should be restricted: the global financial services sector especially should be dismantled.

CEMAT and ESDP on density

In pre-ESDP studies, low density is described with negative terms, such as 'abandonment', and 'decline'. But what is wrong with low density? An implicit preference for uniform densities underlies both documents. This seems to imply a ruralist heritage version of Frank Lloyd Wright's urban utopia 'Broadacre City'. In the original version single-family houses spread endlessly across the prairie on a road grid: in a European version, the continent would probably be covered with a network of heritage villages.


The ESDP philosophy on the distribution of population must be deduced from its commitment to 'indigenous' rural development, for instance in policy aim 3.2.3. Reducing migration is not a primary goal of the ESDP - the transition to an urban majority is already complete in most of the EU. The ESDP emphasises on rural-urban partnership. In combination with the plans for extensive cultural landscape parks, this suggests a de facto strategy of low-density suburbanisation.


The CEMAT objective A2.2,apparently explains the meaning of "balanced development". It opposes migration for its "destabilising influence", and says that Europeans should live in their region of origin. It therefore contains not just explicit anti-migration policies, but an implicit commitment to the existing population distribution - at least at regional level. Combined with the proposed support for rural development, this indicates a Europe without rural-to-urban migration streams. These migrations caused increasing divergence of residential density, and were traditionally opposed by conservatives.

Innovative principles on density

Differences in population density (density contrast) should be emphasised.

Out-migration from low-density rural areas should not be hindered, and there should be no development programmes specifically designed to slow or reverse it. Out-migration should be encouraged and assisted, in regions with a relatively dense and highly dispersed rural majority population and no significant urban areas. In other words, where existing towns are so small that even high growth will leave a majority rural population, the urban share of population should be increased by accelerating the decline of the rural areas. At the other end of the density gradient, urban residential densities in Europe should be raised: the urban-rural density boundary should be sharper.

Areas with rural population densities below about 2 inhabitants/km should have a specific planning regime, where the maintenance of permanent human settlement is not a goal. In other words complete depopulation will be accepted. (Most of this area coincides the former Soviet North).

Peripherality is not wrong in itself: even if it was possible, there is no reason to put all Europe at exactly 45 minutes travel time from Brussel/Bruxelles. In practice 'increased accessibility' simply means more roads, and often the deliberate abandonment of rail transport: this policy goal should therefore be abandoned.

CEMAT and ESDP: the car as 'European mode of transport'


One of the three policy aims of the ESDP is "securing parity of access to infrastructure". There is no doubt that this is code for 'more roads' - other EU documents confirm the direction of policy. The regional funds and the Trans-European Networks involve major new road construction. The details of the 'parity of access' leave no doubt about the 'more-roads' orientation of the ESDP, policy aim 3.3.2 says:
  • Spatial differences in the EU can not be reduced without a fundamental improvement of transport infrastructure... A fundamental improvement of infrastructure requires more than just providing the missing links in the TEN's.
The existing transport programme illustrates the policy orientation of the EU. The 9 'pan-European corridors' theoretically include rail and road. In reality there are funds available for new road construction, but no new rail lines, and no completion date for the usually modest improvement to existing track. The Dürres-Varna corridor will have no rail line at all. The reality is that the EU funds new roads, but will not even cover the maintenance backlog on existing rail lines. The ESDP applies the same pro-road bias outside the major corridors:
  • 24. Strengthening secondary transport networks and their links with TENs including efficient regional public transport systems
  • 25. ...adequate distribution of seaports and airports (global gateways)...the improvement of links with their hinterland...
  • 26. Improvement of transport links with peripheral and ultra-peripheral regions...
In European planning documents 'links' and 'transport infrastructure' always mean 'roads' unless otherwise specified. Since the secondary transport networks consist almost entirely of roads anyway, their 'improvement' will inevitably mean more roads.


The CEMAT also proposes new road construction in Eastern Europe, emphasising the concept 'accessibility'. This term is never used in the context of rail access - in fact large parts of the rail system in Eastern Europe are being closed, but this is not seen as reducing 'accessibility'. The CEMAT claims, in section A3.2, that:
  • Experience has shown that accessibility is a decisive factor of location choices of foreign direct investments. Therefore accessibility is of vital importance for Central and East-European countries...
This is a classic example of how the market generates spatial structures. If there is no 'market of regions', it will not be necessary for regions to compete for foreign investment - and it will not be necessary to increase 'accessibility' by constructing new roads. Instead the resources can be used for the rail system.

Innovative principles in transport policy

The number of private cars in Europe should be reduced, to a first target of 30 million within 10 years. Because there is no chance that this measure could ever receive democratic approval in Europe, it should be isolated from the democratic process, and its implementation should not be subject to any political or legal challenge. If necessary, public opposition to the measure should be criminalised.

A uniformly high price for automobile fuel should introduced, in addition to new tolls in urban areas. However, the primary method of restricting automobile use should be through physical reduction in the number of vehicles, and physical restriction on their use (road closures and road narrowing in urban areas).

Approximately 70 000 kilometres of new high-speed rail links should be constructed (circa 1 km per 10 000 inhabitants).

Approximately 70 000 kilometres of regional rail links should be upgraded (circa 1 km per 10 000 inhabitants).

Approximately 25 000 kilometres of new non-road urban transport systems should be constructed (circa 1 km per 10 000 inhabitants in large urban areas).

CEMAT and ESDP: a 'museum Europe'

Both documents obsessionally emphasise heritage, identity and tradition: this is the road to a museum continent. Both imply that ancient culture should determine the future development of Europe


The ESDP reflects the obsession with heritage and identity, which is characteristic of European-level institutions. Part B, section 2.4.4 proclaims:
  • The EU's cultural heritage is of major historical, aesthetic and economic value to local, regional, and national communities...The quality and diversity of this heritage is of great importance for the EU, for Europe, and for the world as a whole.
This is similarly stated in the policy aims, section 3.4.4 on cultural landscapes:
  • Cultural landscapes contribute through their originality to local and regional identity, and reflect the history and interaction of mankind and nature.
These policies are inspired by conservative cultural-nationalism, and specifically National-Socialism - where the community is formed in interaction with a specific place (Heimat).

The ESDP includes these specific policy options...

  • 57. ...integrate strategies for the protection of cultural heritage which is endangered...
  • 58. Maintenance and creative design of urban ensembles...
Option 58 indicates a strategy of 'heritage redevelopment', which is already a reality in most European cities - to the point of complete replica city centres. (It should be said that Stalinist, Fascist, and democratic governments in Europe have all built this type of project - although that does not justify them in any way). Cultural landscapes also are proposed for "restoration" in section 3.4.4. Christian heritage is emphasised in the ESDP, the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostella and the Via Francigena are the only non-landscape heritage specifically named (in section 3.4.4).


The CEMAT Political Document rejects both a pan-European culture, and a move away from ancient cultures. It claims that a plurality of cultures is characteristic of Europe - a central claim of European nationalism since Herder. The document clearly opts for a museum Europe:
  • Spatial planning has to ensure that ancient heritage be protected and enhanced and that modern forms of socio-economic as well as technological development do not counteract the basic cultural roots...
This is a deeply conservative policy statement: only a cultural conservative would see that as the task of spatial planning. More explicitly, objective A3.6 defines the "common cultural heritage of Europe" as a sum of national contributions - an approach which will gratify cultural-nationalists. The CEMAT also extends the definition of heritage:
  • Cultural heritage is a concept which has to go beyond the architectural heritage...the enhancement and protection of other specific heritage categories like the maritime and sub-aquatic heritage, the navigation heritage, the historical waterways etc...
The absurdity of this approach - to 'heritage-ise' the entire landscape - is shown by the inclusion of new architecture in the category 'Heritage' since
  • present urban development will constitute the cultural heritage of future generations. This concerns particularly the search of harmony and creativity in the spatial relationships between modern architectural and urbanistic production and ancient heritage.
This is probably meant to imply the sort of neo-heritage and neo-community architecture and urban design promoted by Prince Charles in Britain. An extreme extension of the heritage concept is the preservation of heritage for nonresident groups
  • In Central and Eastern Europe, there are many elements of the cultural and historical heritage which, due to historical movements, events and border changes, belong to the heritage of not only one but of several nations, religious groups (among them to those living no more in the area).
These euphemisms mean in reality mass murders and ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless, that history generates no obligation to re-create the past which has been destroyed. It is an absurd ultra-conservatism to restore synagogues in towns where no Jews live, but apparently the CEMAT supports this hyper-restorationist philosophy.

Innovative treatment of heritage

Europe is not a museum.

Heritage should be treated as if it were hazardous waste. Heritage clearance programmes should be an essential element of spatial planning in Europe. National heritage especially is an integral part of the evil of nationalism, and should be cleared with priority, beginning with specifically constructed national monuments.

The long-term aim should be, that no national or religious groups can trace their heritage in Europe. The transfer of heritage outside Europe is an acceptable alternative to clearance, in achieving this goal.

CEMAT and ESDP: Europe as a park

A 1998 competition on the future spatial structure of the Netherlands included one entry, with the whole country transformed into parks. It claimed that all land use could be included in five types of parks: recreation parks, including agro-tourist areas; cultural-landscape parks with heritage villages, including all other agricultural areas; industrial parks; natural-landscape parks; and urban parks. Perhaps it was intended as a parody of planning trends in the Netherlands - but those trends have certainly influenced the ESDP and the CEMAT Principles.


Under the primary goal of "Wise Management of the Natural and Cultural Heritage", the ESDP includes these policy options...
  • 40. Continued development of European ecological networks...including the necessary links between nature sites...
  • 42. ...integrated spatial development strategies for protected areas...
  • 49. Preservation and restoration of large wetlands...
  • 50. ...preservation and restoration of threatened maritime ecosystems
This is clearly a strategy of 'restoration ecology' - a movement originating in the US, to create large pseudo-natural parks and gardens. The term has a meaning roughly combining 'landscape architecture' and 'zoo design'. Despite the ecological language, the new parks are often intended for semi-urban residential use. The nature lobby in the Netherlands has been the most active in promoting 'ecological networks' in national and European planning. An ecological network is a large park-like area, which often includes agricultural use, interspaced among new low-density residential development. Obviously, such a trend can be combined with a heritage strategy. The result is a 'cultural landscape park', combining 'heritage' and 'nature', in a low-density theme park, probably with weekend homes. The ESDP proposes to treat these parks as a 'development'. The policy options in section 3.4.4 include: "Preservation and creative development of cultural landscapes with special historical, aesthetic and ecological importance." and the "Creative restoration of landscapes".


The CEMAT also adopts a strategy of 'restoration ecology'. Three areas are named as priorities for spatial planning:
  • ...the management of water resources, the reconstitution of ecological networks, and the protection and enhancement of landscapes.
The CEMAT proposes a pan-European ecological network, in accordance with a strategy adopted in 1996, including
  • core areas...
  • corridors or stepping stones...
  • restoration areas, where damaged elements of ecosystems, habitats and landscapes of European importance need to be repaired or certain completely restored
  • buffer zones
Given the scale of Europe this collection might include millions of square kilometres.

Innovative principles against a 'park Europe'

There is no political justification for allocating thousands, perhaps millions, of square kilometres of territory, to a single lobby. There are more than enough nature reserves and parks in Europe already. There should be no expansion of this area. No continental-scale parks should be designated, under whatever name.


European spatial development perspective: towards balanced and sustainable development of the territory of the EU. (Final discussion at the meeting of ministers responsible for regional/spatial planning of the European Union, Potsdam 10/11 May 1999). Internal draft version, no EU document number.

Ruimtelijke Perspectieven in Europa. (Ruimtelijke Verkenningen 1999) Den Haag: Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer. Recommended: with a historical survey of the predecessors of the ESDP, including Netherlands proposals in the 1950's. It also gives a summary of the spatial models and approaches, in present EU-scale planning.

European spatial development perspective: first official draft. (Informal meeting of ministers responsible for spatial planning of the member states of the European Union, Noordwijk, 9 and 10 June 1997) Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1997. CX-08-97-218-EN-C

Europees Ruimtelijk Ontwikkelings-perspectief: eerste officiële concept (gepresenteerd op de informele bijeenkomst van ministers verantwoordelijk voor ruimtelijke ordening van de lidstaten van de Europese Unie, Noordwijk, Juni 1997) No publication data, probably... Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1997. CX-08-97-218-NL-C

Europees ruimtelijk ontwikkelingsbeleid op zoek naar evenwicht: een analyse van het EROP-proces. Bas Westerhout (Doctoraalscriptie Planologie, Universiteit van Amsterdam, 1998). Recommended: apparently the only detailed source for the internal politics of the ESDP, and the conflicting national planning styles. The history of the ESDP emphasises yet again that the European Union is a union of nation states.

European spatial planning: Informal Council of Spatial Planning Ministers. Leipzig, 21/22 September 1994. Results of the meeting. 1995?. Bundesministerium für Raumordnung, Bauwesen, und Städtebau.

European spatial development policy in Maastricht III? 1997. Andreas Faludi. European Planning Studies, 5 (4), 535-543.

Towards a new European space / Aufbruch zu einem neuen Europäischen Raum / Vers un nouvel espace européen. 1995. ARL. Hannover: Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung.

Perspectives in Europe: exploring options for a European Spatial Policy for North Western Europe. 1991. Verbaan, André et al. Den Haag: Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieu.

European Union spatial policy and planning. 1996. R. Williams. London: Chapman.

Euro-megalopolis or Themepark Europe? Scenarios for European spatial development. 1996. Klaus Kunzmann. International Planning Studies, 1 (2), 143-163.

Europa op de plankaart. 1995. Wil Zonneveld, Frank Evers (red.) Den Haag: Nederlands Instituut voor Ruimtelijke Ordening en Volkshuisvesting / NIROV-Europlan.

Europese ruimtelijke ordening : impressies en visies vanuit Vlaanderen en Nederland. 1994. Wil Zonneveld, Frank D'hondt (red.) Den Haag: NIROV.

Europäische Raumentwicklungspolitik : Notwendigkeit einer vertraglichen Verankerung? 1996. Institut für Europäische Integrationsforschung / Helmut Karl, Wilhelm Henrichsmeyer (hrsg.) Bonn: Europa Union Verlag.

An urban ethic of Europa