As a joint initiative of DG XVI (Regional Policy and Cohesion Funds) of the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions, a series of regional planning seminars will be held throughout 1996. The seminars have arisen partly as a result of the Commission's 1994 publication "Europe 2000+: Cooperation for European territorial development", which calls for cooperation between the regions in producing a "balanced" and sustainable pattern of development across Europe in the future. The seminars are intended to bring together politicians and senior officers from local and regional authorities, members of the Committee of the Regions, MPs and MEPs, and other leading professionals in the spatial planning field. They aim to provide information on regional planning at the European level and on existing cooperation initiatives, as well as to encourage future cooperation between the regions. This latter objective is to complement the "top-down" approach represented by Europe 2000+ and the European Spatial Development Perspective, being developed by the Commission for Spatial Development, which is made up of Member State representatives. Elements of common interest across the regions will be identified. These are likely to include economic and social cohesion, the development of trans-European networks, and environmental protection. Consideration will be given as to whether the issues identified in Europe 2000+ are still pertinent. The first of these seminars was held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, on 4 June 1996. Entitled "Central regions and capital cities", it considered the main spatial planning themes across the traditional urban and economic heartland of Europe. This area comprises East Anglia and the South East in the United Kingdom; Vlaams Gewest, Region Wallone and Brussels in Belgium; Zuid-Nederland and Oost-Nederland in The Netherlands; Nordrhein-Westfalen, Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland Luxemburg in Germany; and Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Haute-Normandie, Picardie, Ile-de-France, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine in France. The seminar also considered the need to develop an institutional and administrative context in which to discuss issues across the region, since existing initiatives have tended to be localized in nature and there has been no mechanism by which to consider spatial planning issues on a transnational scale.