Federation for
Housing and

Europe without borders: the young planners’ perspective

Thinking about the future of space and its societal usage

Planning is thinking: Thinking about the future of space and its societal usage. This means to guide, negotiate and frame different interests based on the resource of space. It is to consider that societal challenges, economic interests and individual lifestyles are increasingly acting in new territorial ways. The roles of borders and national states are decreasing and society is becoming increasingly networked.

Andreas Faludi’s lecture used this framework to reflect on the essential developments in spatial planning at European level during the 20th century. By doing this, he built on the insights and scenarios of Klaus Kunzmann, who gave the first lecture in this series in January in Dortmund. Faludi pointed out that European Integration is not a clear linear process of history following a clear, predefined course. Europe, in a geographical sense, has to be seen as a mosaic of different policy models, each of them having its own “space”. The European Commission and the Council of Europe are probably the most famous models representing both the EUropeanization and the Europeanization process.

Let’s further explore the interactions between these soft and hard processes that Faludi distinguished: The relationship between the broader social evolution of society and the institutional project of building Europe is two-way.

The soft europeanization process represents an evolution towards a more interconnected European continent. This caused some political visionaries to start thinking that a new level of governance was necessary and ultimately gave birth to the idea of creating this supranational institution that the European Union embodies today. EUropeanization consequently represents both a political project that is fed by (and feeds) the softer Europeanization process.  In other words, it is both an output of the broader Europeanization process and an instrument to promote the re-enforcement and development of the EU political project itself.

This process has deep roots. For instance, Faludi reminded us that there were many initiatives to make spatial planning part of the rising EUropean project.  Already before the Second World War, representatives of numerous countries met and exchanged planning knowledge within the International Garden Cities and Town Planning association which later became the International Federation for Housing and Planning. Spatial planning was then regarded on an international scale, overcoming barriers and developing cross-border cooperation.  These planners were early supporters of Europeanism.

Today, the exchange of knowledge and information among different European countries has become essential in responding cohesively to the economic crisis and to new urban issues -such as shrinkage- and planners need a dynamic understanding of territorial policy in an increasingly interconnected Europe.

Today, cheap travels and telecommunications, as well as the improvement of international institutions, have intensified knowledge exchange and the possibilities of cooperation among planning experts. The younger generations of planners have particularly benefitted from new exchange and mobility programs, which have allowed them to live in an increasingly European dimension in which they start their lives in one country, study in a second and finally work in a third. As a consequence, the lens through which these young planners approach their profession does not perceive borders and barriers as a constitutive element anymore, but rather thinks in term of spaces, themes and comparable experiences.

In other words, the lifestyle of the young generation and the general mobility of European society can be seen as the very tangible aspect of the above mentioned processes. Distances are reduced and regions are more conveniently accessible. Scale and time change has synced with society. This is not only happening within Europe but is becoming an increasingly worldwide experience.


Top Image: Supranational European Bodies from Wikimedia Commons
Middle and bottom Images: Time Map of Europe 1 and 2 by Spiekermann and Wegener, IRPUD