EU Territorial Agenda 2030 – Place-based development for a Just and Green Europe

The Territorial Agenda 2030: A Future for all places (TAEU 2030) was adapted this week on 1st December 2020 at an informal meeting of the minsters responsible for Spatial Planning and Territorial Development and /or Territorial Cohesion, under the auspices of the German Presidency of the European Council. This document constitutes a high level commitment to principles of place-based sustainable development and territorial cohesion. It is the third iteration of the Territorial Agenda of the European Union, the first version of which was adopted in 2007 and the second (TAEU 2020) adopted in 2011. Indeed, in many respects, its genesis may be traced, back to the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP 1999), as discussed in a previous commentary here. It may also be viewed as complementary to the New Leipzig Charter on sustainable urban development, the most recent version of which was adopted on 30th November 2020.

Regional differences in economic development since the 2008/2009 financial crisis (source: Atlas for the Territorial Agenda of the EU 2030.
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European Spatial Planning: An Idea of the Past or Key to the Future?

Front cover of the book European Spatial Planning edited by Andreas Faludi, published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in 2002.

Reflecting on developments in European spatial policy over the past decades, the publication of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) in 1999 might be considered the highpoint of European spatial planning. A third iteration of the Territorial Agenda of the European Union (TAEU) is currently under preparation, to be finalised under the current German Presidency of the Council of the EU (second half of 2020). The TAEU has, however, developed little debate and has had limited policy influence since the publication of its first iteration in 2007. The TAEU 2020, adopted under the Hungarian presidency in 2011 comprised a relatively strong endorsement of place-based or spatially sensitive policies at all scales within the EU. Emphasis was placed in particular on ‘territorial diversity’ within the EU and the scope for places to capitalise on their ‘territorial potential’ through regionally-specific development strategies:

“[The place-based approach] aims to unleash territorial potential through development strategies based on local and regional knowledge of needs, and building on the specific assets and factors which contribute to the competitiveness of places”. (TAEU 2020, 2011, Article 11).

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