Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Scientific basis: presentation of the planning milieu by the analysis of planning tools, planning strategies and their effectiveness since the 1970s

1. Governmental capacity in the metropolitan areas
The analysis of governmental capacity in the metropolitan areas is based on a typology of the formal/legal structure of government in the metropolitan study areas. The main objective is to identify the specific patterns of governmental relationships that define the context for planning norms and frameworks in the metropolitan study areas. Such patterns are the result of:
a. the specific forms of central-local inter-governmental relationships defined by the constitutional system;
b. the specific forms of government devised for addressing metropolitan issues.

In line with recent literature on the subject, the following basic types have been distinguished:
- unitary city-states (Berlin, Vienna),
- hierarchical dualism (Brussels and Barcelona),
- dualism with 'mediating position' of meso-level government (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Strasbourg).

According to such a typology, the governmental capacity in the metropolitan study-areas is further analysed in its specificities, with particular attention to the financial capacity and the features of the political environment. The differentiation of meso-level/local governmental relationships is useful in structuring the different sorts of challenges to spatial and economic strategies of metropolitan planning and coordination. The cases also demonstrate that the administrative boundaries nowhere match the dynamic spatial development in metropolitan areas. As a result polycentric and associative initiatives of metropolitan coordination are abundant everywhere often resulting in sub-optimal synergy. The challenge of spatial and economic planning strategies is to enable more concurrency by connecting the different spheres of action prudently.

2. Economic and spatial development strategies in the metropolitan study-areas. An important task of this review of 'norms and frameworks of planning' is an evaluation of the influence of metropolitan government structures and practices on the effective integration between economic and spatial development strategies. It is by no surprise, hence, although by no means granted, that some of the features previously highlighted are reflected in the nature of planning activity with regard to the spatial determinants of economic competitiveness. The most striking example is given by what we have defined 'fragmented' and 'dualistic' metropolitan areas (Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Barcelona), where still the basic constraint to effective economic and spatial development strategies is represented by difficulties in inter-jurisdictional co-operation. In at least two of our study-areas (Strasbourg, Copenhagen), the nature of economic and spatial development policies for the metropolitan area are affected by the presence of intermediary metropolitan institutions endowed with competencies and capabilities which extend inter-jurisdictional co-operation and public-private partnership to strategic issues of metropolitan relevance.

3. Strengths and weaknesses of government in the metropolitan study-areas. The third and final section addresses a summary evaluation of findings regarding the 'governmental capacity' of our metropolitan study-areas with regard to the steering of economic and spatial development processes. Bringing together the results of analyses from different areas that affect the 'governmental capacity' of metropolitan areas allows advancing an interpretive typification of local conditions for policy-making. This represents a background for understanding the actual role played by norms and frameworks of planning in policy-making, which - in addition to the analysis of current spatial-morphological trends - is deemed to be a necessary condition for understanding the context for effective strategies to handle the consequences of tertiarisation and sub-urbanisation of services in these areas and for assessing the transferability of good practices. The most problematic situations - and those which most directly resemble classical issue of metropolitan government - are those represented by metropolitan areas which, in several of the fields analysed, reproduce a pattern of 'fragmented' or 'dualistic' relationships in all of these three dimensions (Berlin, Brussels, Vienna). In the cases mentioned, a peculiar aspect of this core-periphery dualism in absence of intermediary metropolitan institutions is the self-confinement of inter-governmental partnership to an abstract level of joint strategy formation, which bears the features of formal 'inter-institutional diplomacy' rather than of a commitment to operational initiatives. This results in particular in the difficulty to address co-operation at the level of small-scale processes, most notably at the urban fringe, that incrementally contribute to defining development trends in the agglomeration as a whole.

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Nieuwe Prinsengracht 130
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