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  • Final Report Summary - EUP-MED (Transboundary territorial cooperation, policy learning and the Europeanisation of urban and spatial planning policies in the Mediterranean area)

Final Report Summary - EUP-MED (Transboundary territorial cooperation, policy learning and the Europeanisation of urban and spatial planning policies in the Mediterranean area)

This project aimed to investigate the process of transboundary policy learning in European territorial cooperation projects with a particular focus on Southern Europe. Policy learning refers to the deliberate attempt made by a public institution ‘to adjust the goals and techniques of policy in response to past experience and new information’ (Hall, 1993, p. 278). Transboundary (territorial) cooperation refers to cooperation across national borders between sub-central governmental actors (e.g. cities and regions) at various scales. This includes the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) objective of EU Cohesion Policy in the period 2007-2013 (i.e. the 3 strands of INTERREG – crossborder, transnational and inter-regional – and the URBACT programme), as well as inter-city networks (e.g. Eurocities) or cooperation structures (e.g. Euroregions) which may have developed independently from EU-funded programmes.

A commonly held assumption within the EU policy community and among academic researchers is that transboundary cooperation facilitates the dissemination of ‘good practice’ and leads to policy transfer and/or policy change within the organisations involved in cooperation. Tracing a causal link between transboundary cooperation and policy change is, however, a very challenging task. Existing evaluation methods used for ETC programmes are not very suitable to grasp the qualitative, microdynamics of the cooperation and learning processes at play within cooperation projects and networks. The starting point of the project is thus that we need to focus on, and understand, the learning processes that take place (or not) within transboundary cooperation projects and networks in order to analyse whether and how such processes may lead to policy change in the organisations involved.

The project aimed to address the following four questions:
- What types of learning are at play in transboundary cooperation projects and networks?
- Which factors hinder or facilitate the transition from individual to intra- and interorganisational learning, and subsequently to social/policy learning?
- Do such learning processes lead to identifiable examples of ‘policy mobilities’ and policy change in the organisations involved?
- Can we, on that basis, talk about a form of ‘Europeanization’ of territorial, spatial and urban planning policies in the (South-Western) Mediterranean area through transboundary cooperation?

Through two sets of case studies, the project analysed:
(i) how learning happens horizontally within a sample of similar types of transnational cooperation projects from the INTERREG IV programmes MED (covering 35 Mediterranean coastal regions from 13 states) and SUDOE (covering 30 South-Western European regions in 4 states);
(ii) how learning happens within a sample of public actors from one particular region, Catalonia, which participated in different types of transboundary cooperation projects and networks (e.g. Generalitat de Catalunya, Diputació de Barcelona, and a sample of large and medium-sized municipalities).

Related information

Reported by

INSTITUT UNIVERSITARI D'ESTUDIS EUROPEUS
Spain
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