Council of Europe?
s role in regional planning
The Council of Europe was the first international organisation to consider
regional planning at European level and to organise the European Conferences
of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (Cemat), the first of which
was held in Bonn in 1970.The next conference, the twelfth of its kind, will
take place in Hanover on 7 and 8 September 2000.
This work has yielded texts, such as the European Charter on
Regional Planning (Torremolinos, 1983) and the European Regional Strategy
(Lausanne, 1988), for example, which remain authoritative in this field.
In the early 1990s the Parliamentary Assembly felt it essential
that regional planning deliberation take proper account of geopolitical
changes in Europe since 1989, on the one hand, and of the growing importance
of regional planning in the development of an overall policy aimed at
consistency in economic, environmental and localgovernment matters and
social cohesion on the other.
At the 10th Cemat (Oslo, 1994) the Assembly accordingly put
forward proposals for updating the European Regional Planning Strategy
adopted at Lausanne and defining the Council of Europe?s new role in that
The proposals were based on three main lines of action: creating
the conditions necessary for sustainable development by building
environmental concerns into sectoral policies; through the wide involvement
of local authorities and, consequently, the extensive application of the
subsidiarity principle; and, lastly, economic and social cohesion;
Given, also, the growing significance of globalisation and its
consequences, it is essential that European planning policy anticipate their
impact regionally in order to deal appropriately with the effects on social
For its part, the European Union decided in the early 1990s to
draw up a European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) providing a set of
guidelines and a framework for Community regional development policy. Like
the proposals put forward by the Assembly, the ESDP aims at consistency of
economic policy, social cohesion, sustainable development and a regional
competitiveness which is kept in check by solidarity.
Finally, at its 11th session (Limassol, Cyprus, October 1997),
the Cemat likewise decided to draw up a set of guiding principles for
sustainable spatial development of the European continent, which would be
submitted for adoption at its next conference, in Hanover in September 2000.
The Assembly welcomed that decision as, in part, meeting its own
concerns and as an opportunity to stress the contribution which the Council
of Europe can make to a spatial development policy for greater Europe, an
area in which the Organisation has the capacity to develop action
commensurate with both its responsibilities and expertise and with the
requirements of its member countries.
While welcoming the fact that European Union member states were
taking an active part in drawing up the guiding principles, the Assembly
insisted that proper regard be given to the Council of Europe?s role and
resources in the matter, so that action by the two organisations develops
within a single coherent framework.
In particular it is important that the guiding principles
submitted to the Cemat should refer explicitly to Council of Europe
activities and instruments which can make a tangible contribution to spatial
development in greater Europe and meet the specific needs of some of its
member countries, particularly in central and eastern Europe.
In this connection, moreover, it stressed that the guiding
principles should pay closer attention to the special problems of some
regions, such as mountain regions, border regions and river basins.
With regard to mountain regions the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities of Europe, with considerable support from the Assembly,
has submitted to the Committee of Ministers a draft European convention on
mountain regions aimed at helping to devise a policy for the sustainable
development of such regions.
To facilitate adoption of the convention, the Congress and the
Assembly have agreed that it should take the form of a framework convention
which, although less binding, would allow for a more flexible response ?
in the form of special protocols ? to the needs of some regions;
Deploring that the guiding principles make no explicit
reference to the draft convention while extensively drawing on its content,
the Assembly invites the Cemat to request that the Committee of Ministers of
the Council of Europe respond to the stated needs of mountain regions and
consider adopting the draft convention in the form of a framework convention
as soon as possible.
It is equally regrettable that the Guiding Principles make no
mention of the draft European Charter on the Danube basin, which it is
important that the Committee of Ministers reconsider for adoption.
In addition, the guiding principles do not give sufficient
prominence to transborder co-operation, in which the Council of Europe has
extensive experience and to which the second summit of heads of state and
government attached clear importance;
In view of the foregoing, and anxious to assert the Council of
Europe?s role in regional planning, the Assembly recommends that the
Committee of Ministers:
step up co-operation with the European Union with a view to coherence and
complementarity of action;
develop relations with other sub-regional intergovernmental
organisations working in that field, such as Black Sea Economic Co-operation
(BSEC) and the Central European Initiative;
develop sectors of activity, such as transborder and
interregional co-operation, which are among the Organisation's priorities
and which contribute to the development of pan-European regional-planning
adopt the framework convention version of the draft convention
on mountain regions in order to cater for the requirements of mountain
regions, in particular those in central and eastern Europe;
reconsider the draft European charter on the Danube Basin with a
view to adopting it.
Text adopted by
the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 17 May 2000.
See Doc. 8733, report
of the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities,
rapporteur: Mr Hoeffel.