ArticlePDF Available

The Poverty of Territorialism: Revisiting European Spatial Planning



Like Karl Popper in The Poverty of Historicism does with social science methods going by that name, this paper points to territorialism as a misguided way of dealing with contemporary issues. First it makes the case for territorialism. It implies the control of people and resources by controlling area, what is called “territoriality”. Under territorialism and the crisis of the European Union the paper shows that this crisis raises questions about what the Union is and should be. The prevailing answer of strengthening nation states may lead to its disintegration, Jan Zielonka argues, but disintegration will not lead to the expected resurgence of nation states, themselves epitomes of territorialism. Pursuing the neo-medieval alternative, this paper reports on the same author foreseeing overlapping territorial and functional arrangements, like in an empire. The next part discusses spatial planning in the neomedieval empire where European space must no longer be seen through the lens of territorialism. Rather, it should be viewed as overlapping and intersecting areas, each requiring its own governance. The implication for European planning, true also for strategic planning generally, is to abandon the pursuit of spatially integrated policies. Instead, planning should produce parallel and overlapping schemes for various territorial and functional spaces.
disP 206 · 52.3 (3/2016) 73FORUM
The Poverty of Territorialism: Revisiting European Spatial Planning
Andreas Faludi
Abstract: Like Karl Popper in The Poverty of
Historicism does with social science methods
going by that name, this paper points to ter-
ritorialism as a misguided way of dealing with
contemporary issues. First it makes the case
for territorialism. It implies the control of peo-
ple and resources by controlling area, what is
called “territoriality”. Under territorialism and
the crisis of the European Union the paper
shows that this crisis raises questions about
what the Union is and should be. The prevail-
ing answer of strengthening nation states may
lead to its disintegration, Jan Zielonka argues,
but disintegration will not lead to the expected
resurgence of nation states, themselves epito-
mes of territorialism. Pursuing the neo-medi-
eval alternative, this paper reports on the same
author foreseeing overlapping territorial and
functional arrangements, like in an empire. The
next part discusses spatial planning in the neo-
medieval empire where European space must
no longer be seen through the lens of territo-
rialism. Rather, it should be viewed as over-
lapping and intersecting areas, each requiring
its own governance. The implication for Euro-
pean planning, true also for strategic planning
generally, is to abandon the pursuit of spatially
integrated policies. Instead, planning should
produce parallel and overlapping schemes for
various territorial and functional spaces.
“Whether we like it or not, we live in a con-
nected world.” (President Barak Obama, BBC
World Service, 24 April 2016)
“Integration driven by autonomous functional
networks without a strong European centre will
in due time be seen as a much more appropri-
ate way forward.” (Jan Zielonka 2014)
“You, as a political project, are in denial”, said
a triumphant Nigel Farage, Member of the Eu-
ropean Parliament for the United Kingdom
Independence Party to his fellow MEPs. The
occasion was the meeting of the European Par-
liament after Britain had voted to leave the
European Union. His object of ridicule was a
Political Union – a European federation – now
apparently dead as a dodo. The point is, de-
claring 23 June to be the UK’s Independence
Day, Nigel Farage and his like are in denial,
too. Whoever thinks that any political commu-
nity, however large or small, can gain control
over its destiny by ring-fencing itself is in de-
nial. Even an EU with, as the current Presi-
dent of the European Parliament Martin Schulz
would have it, “a real European government”
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 4 July 2016;
see Euro, 4 July 2016) subject to
control by the European Parliament and a sec-
ond chamber made up of representatives of
member states – the ultimate political project
which has been Nigel Farage’s object of ridi-
cule – could not force global networks to do
its bidding. In today’s world, sovereignty is an
illusion. So is the view of the world as neatly di-
vided into boxes.
This paper identifies this as territorialism,
a concept to be discussed below in relation to
its twin, territoriality. At this point, what is im-
portant is that in the 21st century the territori-
alism which unites Farage and Schulz – their
difference being merely about which territories
should be the object of government control; na-
tional ones in the case of Farage, or the EU ter-
ritory comprising the territories of its members
according to Schulz – is unsuitable. Hence the
title of this paper: The Poverty of Territorialism.
The allusion in the title is to The Poverty of
Historicism. As Sir Karl Popper does in his well-
known work with the social science method
to which he gives this label, so with this pa-
per: It looks at territorialism as an approach.
To Popper, historicism is an “approach to the
social sciences which assumes that historical
prediction is their principal aim, and which as-
sumes that this aim is attainable ...” (Popper
1957: 3; emphasis in the original). But being
able to predict something that is unique, like
historical development, is logically impossible,
Popper argues.
Territorialism, too, is an approach under
which bounded spaces – territories – are the
objects of policymaking and planning. A classic
statement of the rationale for planning is made
by the Schuster Report on planning education
Andreas Faludi, Professor
Emeritus Spatial Policy Systems
in Europe, Delft University of
74 disP 206 · 52.3 (3/2016)
(Committee of Qualifications of Planners 1950):
For nearly all its activities the community de-
pends, the report says, on the limited supply of
land, and the location of development can have
a profound effect on other issues. The plan-
ning that was meant was that of UK planning
authorities responsible for their allotted areas.
But land is in limited supply only because the
search is restricted to the territory for which
the authority is responsible. Ideally, planning
would however define the plan area from case
to case. It is territorialism which prevents plan-
ners from doing so.
My concern with territorialism comes from
studying European spatial planning. Reflect-
ing on the issues there, I came to the conclu-
sion that planning within closed territories was
fundamentally flawed; that, unless it looked be-
yond territorial boundaries, planning could not
fulfil its calling. From here it is a short step to
concluding that the system of nation-states is
fundamentally flawed.
The idea for writing on the poverty of territo-
rialism came on the morning after a Dutch ref-
erendum advising the government not to ratify
an EU association treaty between the 28 mem-
ber state block and Ukraine. Other member
states have already agreed to it. Never mind, the
majority of the 32% of those eligible to vote suf-
ficed. That this was a very small number is not
the point here. The point is, these were voters
from a confined area, the territory of the Neth-
erlands. They were advising their government
on a fluid situation with geopolitical aspects to
it, but what their advice, if followed, would do in
this wider context and to citizen voters in other
member states was not the issue. How their own
government representing the Dutch state with
its borders marking Dutch territory was. See
here the link with territorialism.
The Dutch referendum on Ukraine coin-
cided with revelations in the Panama Papers
and came only months before the ‘once in a life-
time’ decision as to whether or not the United
Kingdom should leave the European Union was
due. Whatever its eventual consequences, once
it became known, the outcome of the referen-
dum stunned the world. It certainly stunned
the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland,
where a border that has virtually disappeared
in a joint, EU-sponsored arrangement, which
ended what is euphemistically called the Trou-
bles, threatens to be re-established, with dire
consequences looming. There is a famous book
about the eve of the Great War, The Sleepwalk-
ers (Clark 2012). Writing on how nations tumble
into war, Barbara Tuchman (1984) chose the
equally evocative title, The March of Folly. The
stark image is that these are apt metaphors for
the present situation.
Some leaders had last-minute doubts be-
fore embarking on the Great War. Churchill
pointed to a specific problem preventing them
from stepping back from the edge of the caul-
dron: The first party to pull back troop move-
ments headed to the front would become vul-
nerable. How many such mechanisms are at
work preventing a reasonable resolution to the
present crises? Periodic national elections are
one. Not because they give the people a voice,
but because they do not concern what are of-
ten the real, transnational or global issues.
Being by territories, they sanctify territorial-
ism instead.
The case for territorialism
As Popper did with historicism, the first step
here is to make the case of territorialism.
A quick scan of the literature shows that as a
term it is used frequently to describe animals
being willing to – not all ex hibit this behav-
iour – defend t he area in which they roam, feed
and breed. The area which a species frequents
habitually w ithout being possessive about it is
called home range.
The assumption is that territorialism also
applies to humans. So, as the saying goes, my
home is my castle – home connoting security,
warmth and cosiness, preferably guaranteed
through ownership which gives control over, ac-
cess to and behaviour within a bounded space.
Indeed, territorialism implies control of
people and resources by controlling area. This
is called territoriality (Sack 1986). Neolithic
man may have pursued territoriality, so con-
ceived when he started to cultivate the land
which required a sedentary way of life. Pres-
ently, territorialism is a fundamental principle
of spatial organisation. It assumes a seamless
cover of the surface of the earth consisting of
delimited territories, each with a definite owner.
The EU territory and, more generally, the con-
tinents are presented on maps as the sums of
individual territories.
There is what Murphy calls a particular un-
derlying metageography. Metageography con-
cerns ways in which “territorial understandings
and arrangements are shaping how things are
organized on the ground” (Murphy 2009: 8).
This particular metageography comes at the
expense of other ways of ordering space, for in-
stance by water catchment areas.
disP 206 · 52.3 (3/2016) 75
More generally, territorialism stands for
macrosocial space being “wholly organized in
terms of units such as districts, towns, prov-
inces, countries and regions” (Scholte 2000:
47). Each unit is conceived as “a rendering of …
‘space’ as a political category: owned, distrib-
uted, mapped, calculated, bordered and con-
trolled” (Elden 2010: 810). Like home owners,
each un it is thus a sovereig n authority wield ing
exclusive power over a homogenous territory
(Perkmann 2007: 257).
The analogy with property owners is instruc-
tive: Their rights are subject to various forms
of public control and their enjoying the fruits
of their property depends on the provision of
public services. So with administrative units.
Thus, each district, each town, each province is
subject to some form of regulation and depen-
dent on external provisions, for instance in the
field of infrastructure. At least formally speak-
ing, the state is different though. It is the court
of last resort; the repository of all public powers
vested in it by the people and of all public funds
for which it can be called to account.
At state borders, “controls take place over
the movement of people, services, and goods … .
The concept … orientates the convergence of
people with a given territory and myths of a
common history … about who we are, where
we belong, and to whom our loyalties should
lie” (Vaughan-Williams 2011: 185). Borders in
particular “… express sovereignty as a power to
attach populations to territories … , to ‘adminis-
trate’ the territory through the control of popu-
lation, and, conversely, to govern the popula-
tion through the division and the survey of the
territory” (Balibar 2009: 192). States are thus
the ultimate building blocks. Where there is no
sovereign, no owner responsible for and with a
stake in maintaining order, one finds, by defini-
tion, a lawless, no-man’s land. Order and secu-
rity seem points in favour of territorialism.
Another point in favour is that it gives emo-
tional satisfaction. It circumscribes the area
of land with inhabitants whom one could and
should – if only potentially – know and, at
least in the spirit, interact w ith, preferably in
a common idiom. From commonalities such as
these comes attachment and from attachment
solidarity. Flag-waving, singing of national an-
thems, celebrations of national independence
and pledges of allegiance, including, where
soldiers are concerned, putting one’s life on
the line, are designed to promote it. Terri-
torialism thus becomes the basis for a social
contract between the inhabitants of a given
This is a feature of French state territorial-
ism in particular. The French state considers
itself responsible for – in fact has done so since
the French Revolution – the well-being of citi-
zens by means of, amongst others, public ser-
vices “defined and regulated principally in a na-
tional framework by the administration subject
to the control of the political power accountable
to the nation, the community of citizen-voters-
users-taxpayers, from which it derives its legiti-
macy. The public service is required to be, in
theory if not in practice, homogenous through-
out the whole of the national territory” (Peyrony
2014: 307 f.; translation by the author).
The complement, also felt strongly, is the
equality of citizens. Equality before the law is
of course a common principle, but France has
raised it to lofty heights. The Republic is based
on the assumption of equal citizens forming
an organic whole, a body inhabiting a terri-
tory which a conscript army – a novelty at the
time, changing the face of warfare – has de-
fended against invading monarchs conspiring
with the French forces of restoration. This fi-
nally and truly meant the people taking pos-
session, of royal patrimony being transferred
to the people (Rosanvallon 2011: 38). Sovereign
control of territory is particularly important in
democracies where the “absolutization and sa-
cralization of borders is perhaps even greater ...
precisely because it expresses the fact that the
state is ideally the people’s property...” (Balibar
2009: 193).
Napoléon took France to new heights, not
only militarily but also culturally. Other coun-
tries emulated the example, forming nation-
states of their own. Nation-states fostered, in-
deed insisted upon the loyalty of their peoples
by fostering togetherness, romantic love for
their country and patriotic spirit, taking them
far on the road to progress and prosperity.
But how about relations between states and
their territories? Here comes the downside of
state territorialism. The relations between sov-
ereign states – international relations – are not
regulated in anything like the same way as are
relations between territorial administrations
within each state individually. The EU has been
not the only, but in any case an insistent at-
tempt to deal with this issue. It is this project
which seems in crisis now. Coincidentally, this
has led to European spatial planning initiatives,
presently under the label of territorial cohe-
sion (Dühr, Colomb, Nadin 2010; Faludi 2010).
It is the EU project which seems in crisis, not
to speak of European spatial planning, which
seems all but forgotten.
76 disP 206 · 52.3 (3/2016) Territorialism and the EU crisis
Referring to the euro crisis, at a meeting of the
Globsec Bratislava Global Security Forum in
April 2016, German Defence Minister Ursula
von der Leyen admitted that when introducing
the euro “we didn’t have the heart to tell our
people … that we’d have to build up new finan-
cial infrastructure and to partly give up na-
tional sovereignty where finance is concerned
to the European level”. The same is true she
said for Schengen and Dublin, shorthand for
agreements concerning the internal and ex-
ternal management of the area of European
countries that have abolished passport and any
other type of border control at their mutual
borders. The minister agreed that, at the time,
serious implications had remained obscure.
Regulating international relations affects state
sovereignty. By implication it also affects state
territorialism. Needless to say, both implica-
tions are controversial. Voicing an opinion now
frequently heard from national governments,
and more so from some than from others, the
Czech foreign min ister voiced well-k nown con-
cerns about relevant Commission proposals at
the same meeting, saying: “We have to accept
dissent ing opin ions …”.
At issue is the very construct of the EU. The
literature on the matter easily fills whole librar-
ies. Basically it concerns how to deal with state
sovereignty, and with it state territorialism. It
is assumed that the EU springs from member
states voluntarily surrendering – as they may
under international relations theory – sover-
eign controls in areas, preserving all others for
themselves. So whatever the rhetoric about a
superstate, the EU is in fact a kind of functional
authority for the management of specific issues.
Alternatively, the EU itself may be seen as
a state-like construct, with a personality of its
own, just like states are said to have personal-
ity. This takes state territoriality, too, to a higher
level. From this perspective, the EU is thus
often portrayed as an emergent federation. A
third line of argument is that the EU is some-
thing new, unheard of, sui generis, maybe a har-
binger of the future. But this is not a popular
view, neither with the “territorial-administrative
complex” (Faludi 2016a) pursuing its own inter-
ests in each and every member state, nor with
a bewildered public looking for protection in a
bewildering world.
Introducing an ironic note into the discus-
sion, some authors compare the EU with the
Middle Ages. The proposition had already been
put forward by Jan Zielonka, Professor of Euro-
pean Studies at Oxford University, a Dutch and
UK citizen of Polish extraction (Zielonka 2006).
Even before the refugee crisis had hit to the
full, he published another short book, Is the EU
Doomed? (Zielonka 2014). It is discussed here
because, obviously, the crisis relates to territo-
rialism, but it also raises questions about what
the Union is, or should be.
Not to mince words, the EU, Zielonka says,
has become an embarrassment. It will survive,
if at all, in weakened form, but interestingly he
opines that this will not lead to strengthening
the epitomes of territorialism, the nation-states.
Rather than strengthening state territorialism,
it will strengthen, for instance, cities, regions
and non-governmental organisations, making
state borders fuzzier and dividing loyalties even
further. Administrative jurisdictions will over-
lap even more than now, supporting the case
for viewing the EU as a neo-medieval empire.
Instead of a pan-European government, there
will thus be diverse and decentralised networks
in areas such as transport, energy, migration,
tourism and sport. Between them, these net-
works would get things done more effectively
and efficiently, ensuring what Fritz Scharpf
(1999) has identified as output legitimacy to
distinguish it from input legitimacy generated
through democratic procedures, the latter im-
plying an EU model of integration run by a sin-
gle institutional centre.
For the current situation, Zielonka invokes
Barbara Tuchman quoted above on the ‘march
of folly’, the European Council generating
events, driving them to a place they should not
even visit, a place called disintegration. Indeed,
any attempt to create a federation, however
light, may prompt this development. The strat-
egy should be the opposite, “creating more ‘Eu-
ropes’ and not more Europe, meaning a single
integrated continent” (Zielonka 2014: 48). This
would be the proper response to a situation
where sovereignty is jealously guarded.
Not that Zielonka would applaud strength-
ening it. Sovereignty is meaningful only, he
says, where state borders overlap with market
transaction fringes, military frontiers and mi-
gration trails. In terms of animal behaviour,
referred to in the introduction, comprehensive
control over resources and so forth, it makes
sense only where people’s home range is con-
fined to their territory. So, relying on the re-
surgence of the nation-state is not the answer.
Instead, networks and NGOs are. Citizens will
therefore have “ever-more multiple loyalties
and associations and less trust in traditional
communal hierarchies and values. Europe will
disP 206 · 52.3 (3/2016) 77
look like a complicated puzzle without a clear
institutional structure, legal order and ideologi-
cal consensus” (Zielonka 2014: 75).
In terms of the topic of this paper, territori-
alism, the misgivings are not about dealing with
territory in any general sense of the word. They
are about ‘absolutistic‘ territorialism, meant to
indicate that, in principle, state territoriality al-
lows for no compromise. Contrast this with aca-
demic theorising seeing spaces as constructed
and reconstructed by actors, which implies a
negotiated territoriality. So outcomes depend
on who is involved.
The neo-medieval alternative
So, instead of a return to a Westphalian order,
so called after the Peace of Westphalia con-
cluded in 1648, an order based on the recog-
nition of state sovereignty, Zielonka foresees
a new medieval order. However, this does not
mean a return to the Middle Ages. What it does
mean is the exercise of authority resembling the
medieval model of overlapping authorities, di-
vided sovereignty, differentiated arrangements
and multiple identities. In terms of the bla-
tant territorialism implied in the West phalian
model, relying on fixed and hard border lines,
the future will bring the opposite: fuzzy bor-
ders. Rather than central redistribution, it will
feature different types of solidarity. Rather than
imposing rules, the future is one of bargaining,
flexible arrangements and incentives.
Medievalism does not necessarily mean the
death of the nation-state but an increasing im-
portance of other polities resulting in hybrid
institutional arrangements and multiple politi-
cal allegiances. “Even democracy is likely to be
less territorial” (Zielonka 2014: 82). The state-
centred model of representative democracy is
increasingly unpopular and non-state demo-
cratic representation on the rise.
Invoking Saskia Sassen (1991), Zielonka
sees agglomerations and ‘global cities’ filling
the political and administrative vacuum left by
the loss of power at the national level. “Modern
cities operate transnationally through a variety
of trans-border networks, often ignoring tradi-
tional interstate diplomacy. Their inhabitants
are also transnational. … They are actors from a
different, super-modern universe …” (Zielonka
2014: 90). They sometimes work like the medi-
eval Hanseatic League. Heading a team advising
the then European Commissioner for Regional
Policy, Danuta Hübner, Fabrizio Barca, too, put
much faith in not only large agglomerations,
but all sorts of entities other than administra-
tive territories as the carriers of, in his case, EU
cohesion policy, untainted by the rent-seeking
behaviour of established, democratically sanc-
tioned elites (Barca 2009). The very relationship
between territory, authority and rights is likely
to change. Will integration still be possible?
Indeed, for followers of Jean Monnet,
Zielonka says, all this heralds the end of in-
tegration. Whether he is right to invoke Mon-
net as a witness is a moot point (Faludi 2016a).
In any case, Zielonka’s important message is
that the crisis of integration as presently con-
ceived might prove a blessing in disguise. States
were not necessarily the best agents of integra-
tion. Making another important point, the case
about where to put the blame, he points out that
states tried to use the EU “for their own paro-
chial ends without committing any significant
resources to common endeavours” (Zielonka
2014: 93).
It is worth looking into integration meth-
ods suitable for a neo-medieval environment.
Zielonka refers to neofunctionalism associated
with the classic work predating the EU by David
Matrany. Accordingly, the future is for inter-
dependent and transnational polities involving
multiple actors and not just states. “States are
likely to take part... For instance, one can hardly
imagine a network dealing with Europe’s im-
migration or security without the participation
of states. However, non-state actors should be
allowed to play a meaningful role...” (Zielonka
2014: 95).
So Zielonka envisages functional alongside
territorial integration, in the terms of Hooghe
and Marks (2010), multi-level governance Type
II alongside Type I conventionally associated
with that term in discussions of the EU. “Gov-
ernance in the present-day EU is largely about
constructing and maintaining the European
centre of authority. The new vision of integra-
tion should emphasize problem-solving capac-
ities, and this requires rules that are able to
cope with a complex and ever-changing envi-
ronment” (Zielonka 2014: 97). All this leads him
to conclude that “the EU may well be doomed,
but this is not all bad news for European inte-
gration” (Zielonka 2014: 101).
However, like banks, the EU may have be-
come too big to fail. So Zielonka applauds that,
like with the compartmentalisation of banks,
there “are currently more than thirty European
agencies and bodies spread across the entire
continent …” (Zielonka 2014: 102). Interest-
ingly, this also means capital functions being
spread all over Europe (Hein 2004). Such agen-
78 disP 206 · 52. 3 (3/2016) cies could, and should, be beefed up. The ef-
fect would be that the EU would not be formally
dissolved, but it would become less powerful,
heralding, rather than the demise of integra-
tion, its revival. “Europe’s governance structure
will not look like a pyramid, but like a ‘junction
box’ with numerous points of interaction and
intersection... [It] will embrace the basic prin-
ciples of democracy – plurality and self-govern-
ment. It will also embrace the basic principles
of effective governance: functional coordina-
tion, territorial differentiation and flexibility”
(Zielonka 2014: 107).
Defenders of the status quo will complain
that the outcome would not be transparent, a
justified concern, Zielonka says, but networks
will still be subject of the laws of the countries
they operate in. Also, self-regulation is often
more effective than central rule. The size and
functional scope of a unit also matter. Power
will be deconcentrated and, anyway, there are
more ways of securing accountability. Networks
are, for instance, subject to informal controls.
Finally, it is easier to reform one network at
a time than whole multi-purpose institutions.
Referring to the bête noir of the British – the
reader is reminded that he is also a British sub-
ject and teaching at Oxford – Zielonka adds:
“Abandoning the ambition of an ever-closer
union ... may well require a “Copernican” revo-
lution in our thinking about integration. How-
ever, upholding the status quo is not a viable
option” (Zielonka 2014: 113).
Spatial planning in the neo-medieval
This paper is not about European integration
in general, but about European spatial plan-
ning. So this part discusses spatial planning
in the neo-medieval empire, where European
space can no longer be seen through the lens
of territorialism. Rather, it should be seen as
comprising overlapping and intersecting areas,
each requiring its own governance. In fact, Eu-
ropean space itself cannot be conceived of as a
fixed container, but rather as the intersection
between various spatial configurations. The im-
plication for European planning, true also for
strategic planning generally, is to abandon the
pursuit of spatially integrated policies. Instead,
planning should be seen as being about produc-
ing parallel and overlapping schemes for the
various territorial and functional spaces con-
cerned. The planning that comes from this is
‘soft’, with shifting constellations within bound-
aries that are also soft. This as against planning,
as is the common view, being contained within
fixed, judicial boundaries.
Indeed, in a paper heralding soft planning
for soft spaces, discussing Thames Gateway, All-
mendinger and Haughton (2009: 619) refer to
“an apparent predilection for promoting new
policy scales, initially at least through the de-
vice of fuzzy boundaries”. This is definitely a
trend. Soft spaces come in many shapes. There
are so-called macro-regional strategies for the
Baltic Sea Area, the Danube Area, the Adriatic
and Ionian Sea Region, and the Alpine Space,
with more being contemplated (European Par-
liament 2015; Gänzle, Kern 2016). In macro-
regions, under the authority of the European
Council, the European Commission coordi-
nates relevant policies and brokers agreements
for managing select policies. With no sharp
boundaries, the spaces are soft. This requires
no new EU legislation, money or institutions,
but sociologists would say that, albeit infor-
mal, institution-building is an aspect, leading
conceivably to more formal arrangements in
future. Similar, ad hoc formations are the ob-
jects of cross-border and transnational plan-
ning. In fact, mainstream EU Cohesion policy
often concerns areas criss-crossing administra-
tive boundaries.
Political geography couches such discus-
sions in terms of relative, or relational, and
absolute space, with a fascination with the for-
mer. Seeking to come to interim conclusions,
a 2013 issue of Regional Studies accepts, how-
ever, the need “to be aware of the persisting
relevance of the territorial dimension of socio-
spatial processes” (Varró Lagendijk 2013: 21).
This relates to the backlash against the ‘rela-
tional’ view as the only one that is relevant. As
another author says in the same issue, the two
views coexist. One must recognise “ever-more-
complex configurations in order to make emer-
gent strategies compatible with inherited land-
scapes of socio-political organization, and for
new conceptual frameworks capable of theoriz-
ing the ‘inherently polymorphic and multi-di-
mensional’ nature of social relations” (Harrison
2013: 71 f.). He alludes to the paper by Jessop,
Paasi and Jones (2008), reviewing relevant dis-
cussions in geography. All this chimes well with
what Healey (2010: 71) says about place gov-
ernance: Places being mixed in with adminis-
trative areas result in “a tangle of complex re-
lations and arenas, in which particular actors
come together”.
The above has a bearing on spatial plan-
ning in the EU, where it is being pursued under
disP 206 · 52.3 (3/2016) 79
the guise of a somewhat mooted policy of pro-
moting territorial cohesion. Because of the na-
ture of the EU construct, nation-states and their
territories are considered supreme, apparently
making that construct, as Zielonka (2014) has
been shown to believe, doomed to fail. The only
– unrealistic – alternative to sustaining national
sovereignty under theories of the state and of
international relations seems to be a United
States of Europe with its own territoriality. Now,
although he did talk in terms of a United States
of Europe, Monnet’s main concern was func-
tional integration, hence the accolade of him
as the first “statesman of interdependence”
(Duchêne 1994). Also, as pointed out, alterna-
tives to conceptualising the EU in terms de-
rived from the theory of the modern state ex-
ist. Zielonka apart, there is Roche perceiving
it as a ‘socio-political UFO’. This of course re-
minds one of Jacques Delors, characterizing it
famously as an ‘unknown political object’ (Ross
1995). Roche couches the discussion in socio-
spatial terms more directly relevant to plan-
ning. Accordingly, the EU is a network society
and a neo-imperial system. He notes also “the
inadequacy of the ‘super-state’ and nation-state
analogies” (Roche 2012: 40 f.).
EU policies addressing spatial configura-
tions cross-cutting local, regional and national
boundaries, encouraging the areas and the
stakeholders concerned to assume new iden-
tities, create complexity. But Europe deserves
better than being forced into the straightjacket
of thinking only in terms of states and of their
territories as containers. Here, the learning ex-
perience of European spatial planning (Stead
2011; Faludi 2014) may stand in good stead, but
relevant debates cannot be initiated, let alone
sustained, by planners alone. Having said this,
planners have the perhaps unique ability to
create and invoke metaphors, shaping think-
ing about European space in all its complexity.
In so doing, pursuing two metaphors may per-
haps be helpful (Faludi 2016b). They are: Eu-
rope as an archipelago and Europe as a cloud.
Europe as an archipelago comes down to see-
ing European space, not as a set of contiguous,
fixed territories, which is what territorialism
suggests, but rather as a group of islands – each
a member state – in a sea of malleable func-
tional territories. The wave patterns incessantly
re-model the shorelines of the islands. Spatial
planning concerns the activities on the islands,
more in particular whether the islanders suc-
ceed in integrating them. Importantly, it also and
in particular concerns how well islanders man-
age their relations with the sea around them,
including those with other islands, near and far.
Europe as a cloud refers to the fact that, far
from European institutions fitting neatly into
one overall box, the spaces they cover over-
lap, creating an apparently disorderly pattern.
Thus, there is the European Economic Area;
the Schengen Area including Switzerland; the
euro zone – but note that non-members Mon-
tenegro and Kosovo and mini-states not other-
wise involved, like the Vatican, also use the euro.
There are the Cooperation Areas under INTER-
REG, some of them overlapping so that certain
parts of the EU participate in two or more such
programmes. Also, Cooperation Areas are fre-
quently transcending the EU’s external borders.
There are also the macro-regions, already men-
tioned, which do the same: overlapping the ex-
ternal borders of the EU. And there is the Medi-
terranean Union, now largely defunct, of which
all 28 EU member states are also members.
Whether viewing the EU as an archipelago
or a cloud, the calling of planning is conceptu-
alising spatial or territorial relations. This re-
quires formulating non-binding strategic spa-
tial visions. The purpose should be to help cope
with the interrelations between the constitutive
elements of the EU and, since the EU is not a
finished product, to prepare for change.
Indeed, just as clouds change their shape,
so with the EU: It is, and remains, in flux. Plan-
ning might help with making the process run
more smoothly. This view of planning might be
disturbing, as Zielonka’s neo-medieval vision
of Europe is. It somewhat stretches our imagi-
nation and ability to cope. But, then, the chal-
lenges which Europe faces may do the same.
Concluding comments
As the great philosopher Sir Bertrand Russell
wrote, apparently referring to advances in mod-
ern physics:
“I think the universe is all spots and jumps,
without unity, without continuity, without co-
herence and orderliness or any other proper-
ties that governesses love. Indeed, there is little
but prejudice and habit to be said for the view
that there is a world at all. Physicians have re-
cently advanced opinions which should have led
them to agree with the foregoing remarks; but
they have been so pained by the conclusions to
which logic would have led them that they have
been abandoning logic for theology in shoals”
(Russell 1949: 98 f.).
Planners should not allow themselves to
be accused of the same weakness of character.
80 disP 206 · 52.3 (3/2016) They should face the truth that the world does
not lend itself to being ordered once and for all.
It is “all spots and jumps”, as Russell has been
quoted as saying. Planners should cope with
this confusing world without the illusion of be-
ing able to finally bring it to heel. They should
thus abjure territorialism, as social scientists
who, according to Popper, should abjure the
illusion as if there was something like histori-
cal development as an object that they might
be able to grasp in all its complexity and whose
course they could predict and help to steer.
Territorialism – painting the image of a well-
ordered world of boxes stacked into boxes, pre-
sumably until the globe, too, is safely cocooned
in one super-box – is an illusion, and an inhu-
mane one to boot. It puts the box, in particular
that of the nation-state, above the human be-
ing. Yes, human beings need nests into which
to withdraw, but they should be able to freely
choose their home range, where they go to
work, seek entertainment and recreation and,
yes, find their mates. The one million babies
purportedly born to parents who met, not in the
cosiness of their home state, but on an adven-
turous study beyond the confines of their own
territory under the EU’s Erasmus programme
are harbingers of the future.
Allmendinger, P.; Haughton, G. (2009): Soft spaces,
fuzzy boundaries, and metagovernance: The new
spatial planning in the Thames Gateway. Envi-
ronment and Planning A, 41 (3), pp. 617–633.
Balibar, E. (2009): Europe as borderland. Environ-
ment and Planning D: Society and Space, 27,
pp. 90–215.
Barca Report 2009: An Agenda For a Reformed
Cohesion Policy. A Place-based Approach to
European Union Challenges and Expectations.
Independent report prepared at the request of
Danota Hübner, Commissioner for Regional
Policy. Accessible at:
news/barca_report/7/2647. (accessed on: xx xxxx
Clark, C. (2012): The Sleepwalkers. London: Allen
Committee on Qualifications of Planners ( Schuster
Report) (1950): London: HMSO.
Deas, I.; Lord, A. (2006): From new regionalism
to an unusual regionalism? The emergence of
non-standard regional spaces and lessons for
the territorial reorganisation of the state. Urban
Studies, 43, pp. 1847–1877.
Duchêne, F. (1994): Jean Monnet: The First States-
man of Interdependence. New York, London:
W. W. Norton & Company.
Dühr, S.; Colomb, C.; Nadin, V. (2010): European
Spatial Planning and Territorial Cooperation.
London, New York: Routledge.
Elden, S. (2010): Land, terrain, territory. Progress in
Human Geography, 34 (6), pp. 799–817.
European Parliament (2015): New Role of Macro-Re-
gions in European Territorial Cooperation. Stras-
bourg: Directorate-General for Internal Policies.
Available at:
282015%29540349_EN.pdf (accessed on: 22 Au-
gust 2016).
Faludi, A. (2010): Cohesion, Coherence, Cooperation:
European Spatial Planning Coming of Age? Lon-
don: Routledge.
Faludi, A. (2014): EUropeanisation or European-
isation of spatial planning?. Planning Theory &
Practice, 15 (2), pp. 155–169.
Faludi, A. (2016a): EU territorial cohesion: A con-
tradiction in terms (COMMENT). Planning The-
ory & Practice. Available at:
10.1080/14649357.2016.1154657 (accessed on:
22 August 2016).
Faludi, A. (2016b): European integration and the
Territorial-Administrative Complex. Geograf-
iska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography,
98 (1), to be published.
Gänzle, S.; Kern, K. (eds.) (2016): A ‘Macro-re-
gional’ Europe in the Making: Theoretical Ap-
proaches and Empirical Evidence. Houndsmill,
Basingstoke, Hants: Palgrave Macmillan.
Harrison, J. (2013): Configuring the new ‘regional
world’: On being caught between territory and
networks. Regional Studies, 42 (1) pp. 55–74.
Healey, P. (2010): Making Better Places - The Plan-
ning Project in the Twenty-First Century. Lon-
don: Palgrave.
Hein, C. (2004): The Capital of Europe: Architecture
and Urban Planning for the European Union.
Westport: Praeger.
Hooghe, L.; Marks, G. (2010): Types of multi-level
governance. In Enderlein, H.; Wälti, S.; Zürn,
M. (eds.), Types of Multilevel Governance, Chel-
tenham: Elgar, pp. 17–31.
Jessop, B.; Brenner, N.; Jones, M. (2008): Theorising
sociospatial relations. Environment and Plan-
ning D: Society and Space, 26 (3), pp. 389–401.
Mission opérationelle trasnfrontalière (2007):
Atlas de la cooperation trasnfrontalière, http://
flipbooks/atlas2007/index.html (accessed on: 22
August 2016).
Murphy, A. B. (2008): Rethinking multi-level gov-
ernance in a changing European Union: Why
metageography and territoriality matter. Geo-
Journal, 72 (1–2), pp. 7–18.
Perkmann, M. (2007): Construction of new territo-
rial scales: A framework and case study of the
EUREGIO cross-border region. Regional Stud-
ies, 33 (7), pp. 657–667.
Peyrony, J. (2014): La “modernisation de l’action pu-
blique territoriale” en perspective européenne at
disP 206 · 52.3 (3/2016) 81
transfrontalière. In GIS Collège international des
sciences du territoire, Paris, pp. 307–316. http://
peyrony.pdf (accessed on: 22 August 2016).
Richardson, J. (2012): Supranational state building
in the European Union. In Richardson, J. (ed.),
Constructing a Policy-Making State? – Policy
Dynamics in the EU, Oxford: Oxford University
Press, pp. 3–28.
Ross, G. (1995): Jacques Delors and European Inte-
gration. Cambridge UK: Polity Press.
Russel, B. (1949) (1st edition 1931): The Scientific
Outlook. London: George Allen and Unwin.
Sack, R. D. (1986): Human Territoriality: Its Theory
and History. Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
sity P ress.
Sassen, S. (1991): The Global City: New York, Lon-
don, Tokyo. Princeton, New Jersey: P rinceton
University Press: .
Scharpf, F. (1999): Governing in Europe: Effective
and Democratic? Oxford: Oxford University
Scholte, J. A. (2000): Globalization: A Critical In-
troduction. Houndsmill and London: Macmillan
Stead, D. (ed.) (2011): Differential Europe (Special
Issue), disP – The Planning Review, 186 (3/2011),
pp. 12–83.
Tuchman, B. (1984): The March of Folly: From Troy
to Vietnam. New York: Random House.
Varró, K.; Lagendijk, A. (2013): Conceptualizing
the region: In what sense relational? Regional
Studies, 47 (1), pp. 18–28.
Vaughan-Williams, N. (2011): Off-shore biopoliti-
cal border security: The EU’s global response
to migration, piracy, and ‘risky’ subjects. In
Bialasiewicz, L. (ed.), Europe in the World: EU
Geopolitics and the Making of European Space.
Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 185–200.
Zielonka, J. (2014): Is the EU Doomed? Cambridge:
Polity Press.
Andreas Faludi
Guest researcher and Professor
emeritus of Spatial Policy
Systems in Europe
Delft University of Technology
Oostplantsoen 114
2611 WL Delft
The Netherlands
... Or, pour des raisons qui relèvent à la fois de l'organisation politique, de l'histoire de chaque pays, mais aussi de différences de tradition en matière d'intervention sur l'espace ou d'une simple question de sémantique, cette approche par le territoire n'est pas partagée à l'échelle européenne, ni entre acteurs du développement ni entre experts et chercheurs européens qui s'intéressent à ces questions. À ce titre, certains chercheurs promeuvent une approche qui permettrait de s'affranchir des territoires institutionnels trop contraignants (Faludi 2016) et jugés peu pertinents pour mener des actions de développement. Ils militent donc pour un ajustement souple des espaces d'intervention (soft spaces) en fonction des actions à mener (Allmendinger et Haughton 2009 ;Walsh et al. 2012 ;Stead 2014 ;Allmendinger et al. 2015). ...
L’aménagement du territoire a pris à bras-le-corps l’idée d’un traitement des inégalités territoriales en s’attardant sur des logiques d’équipement à l’échelle nationale, puis de développement économique à l’échelle locale.Aujourd’hui, cette question crée de nouvelles scènes de débats à forte résonance politique (Brexit, Gilets jaunes). Les interprétations de ces mouvements sont souvent rapides et binaires : opposition entre les métropoles et les périphéries, entre les villes et les campagnes, entre les Nords et les Suds ou entre l’Est et l’Ouest de l’Union européenne.Les inégalités territoriales tente d’éclairer les portées sociales, politiques et opérationnelles de ces divergences. Les textes ont été choisis pour couvrir le sujet à différentes échelles d’actions et d’observations (du quartier au monde), mais aussi selon leurs interdépendances. Pour traiter d’un thème aussi vaste et ambitieux, l’approche privilégiée est celle du développement territorial et de son corollaire en termes de politiques publiques, à savoir l’aménagement du territoire.
... It did not have enough capacity to transform and achieve a "dynamic parameter of cohesion" (Faludi, 2006). Although state territoriality has been the category used at the national level and EU officials in their quest to design and implement territorial cohesion policy, there are analysts who believe that the emphasis could be on other levels of territoriality and allow reshuffling regardless of state sovereignty (Faludi, 2006(Faludi, , 2010(Faludi, , 2013(Faludi, , 2016c(Faludi, , 2016d(Faludi, , 2019Sassen, 2013). ...
Full-text available
Tourism has grown since the first democratic elections in 1994 in South Africa, which led to the election of Nelson Mandela as President. The high levels of concentration of tourism in major urban centres has limited the developmental potential of tourism. The first type of second home tourism is located in high amenity areas and is dominated by the upper- and middle-class South Africans. The high amenity nature of these localities has led to the emergence of a strong leisure and business component alongside second home tourism. The second home tourism market in South Africa is dominated by working-class South Africans who work in urban centres and have homes in former apartheid-created homelands, where family and extended family reside on ancestral land. These working-class travellers dominate domestic tourism trips and the visiting friends and relatives market in South Africa.
... In a nutshell, the message here is that populism implies a territorialism which I have already critiqued in this journal. (Faludi 2016; see also Faludi 2018Faludi [2020) After all, they share a view of land being divided into administrative territories with, according to Schouten (2000), the territories of sovereign states taking pride of place. Now, populists take a particularly strong view of the unity of government thought and action concerning its people and their common territory. ...
Full-text available
This paper argues that territories being the objects of spatial planning amounts to a spatial planning meta-theory shared with populists, which I describe as territorialism. Prioritising their territory and people, except where it is a source of threats and opportunities, populists neglect the world outside. Invoking Jan Werner Müller and Pierre Rosanvallon, I identify criticisms of populism, taking note also of Yascha Mounk and David Djaïz who, up to a point, accept populist concerns and see states continuing to play a role in meeting them. To planners, the meta-planning theory that singles out territories as objects of state concern and planning poses a dilemma. In reality, spatial relations go all over the place. Even if their vantage points are territories, planners must pursue spatial relations wherever they take them, including across borders. Also, there are meta-theories of spatial planning less congenial to populists. They focus on places rather than jurisdictions, or on functional areas criss-crossing territories.
... In the literature, there is wide agreement that territorial cohesion is a fuzzy concept (see e.g. Abrahams, 2014, Faludi, 2016. For example, territorial cohesion reflects the idea of building on Europe's extensive diversity between its regions and territories and recognising this diversity as a positive factor (Strength through Diversity) that can contribute to improving the Union's global competitiveness. ...
This chapter explores key themes and concepts which might help frame international planning studies. The question of whether there is anything conceptually distinctive about international, as opposed to generic planning, studies is considered. The chapter then focusses selectively on themes and ideas which are particularly relevant to international planning studies. Some of these have been developing within the planning field, such as the debate on the convergence or divergence of planning approaches internationally and the influence of planning cultures. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of planning and the eclectic nature of its conceptual bases, the chapter also explores ideas drawn from other disciplines addressing wider themes like: globalisation; sustainability; path dependencies; territorialism; different state types and political legitimacies; and policy transfer and mobilities.
Karl Popper characterizes the open society as a civilization that allows egalitarian conversation, distinguishes the facts of nature from normative values, eschews a foretold historical trajectory, avoids a binary contrast of wholly right to wholly wrong, and in consequence, shores up a constitutional and democratic polity. Critics have pointed that Popper himself occasionally endorses a moralistic view of nature, a foretold historical plot, a binary form of presentation, and a constrained view of democracy. I argue that these apparent anomalies in Popper’s outlook are interlinked in the same way that Popper expects them to be in the closed society and are presented in the binary fashion he ascribes to the closed society. The open society derives its perception of politics from a structured understanding of nature and history and divides the field into two opposing camps that are simultaneously political, moral and ideological, disallowing third options, such as political realism.
This study discusses what implications territorial governance has on the governmental and territorial nature of the European Union (EU). The EU increasingly addresses governance on a territorial basis to improve its territorial integrity and coherence. It seeks to set up horizontal and vertical cooperation between different governmental levels and strengthen the institutionalization of territories. This way of governing is bounded by the EU’s territory, thereby a single overarching political scale emerges. In this framework, perusing into the documents on spatial development and territorial state/agenda of the EU and the available literature, the study suggests that the spaces of governance in the EU, considered as territorial, are interwoven, and this structure is attached to a supranational territory.
This chapter contributes to the discussion of the territorial dimension of policies related to territorial cohesion, peripherality, and accessibility. The authors analyze which components and methodology should be considered at the academic level to quantify or measure territorial cohesion trends. The notions of territoriality, peripherality, and accessibility are briefly discussed. The results make it possible to identify problems so that peripheral regions can be further explored. Economic and regional inequalities of the Portuguese territory are shown through indicators related to their cohesion policy. Peripheralization continues to deepen the gap between the center and the periphery, as well as coastal and border regions. The analysis reveals the poor results of the cohesion policies undertaken, although the territoriality of cohesion policies has been attempted and emphasized through many projects over the EU's cohesion policy.
Purpose There is a growing importance for public facilitation of corporate social responsibility and involvement of civil organizations in securing territorial cohesion and development. In the present article, the authors focus on how we are to understand a locally sensitive organization of territorial cohesion in the Danish context. Traditional sociological concepts and standardized area-types used for administrative purposes have turned out not being very helpful in understanding the interrelation between inequality, urbanization and territorial cohesion. The authors argue for a processual and relational approach to urbanization. Design/methodology/approach The present article is based on interview material and policy documents from three Danish case studies representing urban, suburban and rural forms of settlement. The case studies are part of a cross-European research project. Findings The authors show how territorial governance play a key role in the strategies of densification/de-densification facilitating shielding capacities of collective efficacy, and reversely that bottom-up innovations are crucial for the ability of territorial governance to mobilize territorial capital and mediate in effects of territorial inequality. Spatial imaginaries legitimize these efforts to organize cohesion. The spatial imaginaries work as common frame of references for the interplay between strategies of (de)densification and collective efficacy, and they activate particular balances between growth agendas and everyday life. Originality/value These findings represent an original perspective on how and why urbanization impact on places in a more specific and variated way than often portrayed as it highlight how social capacities tied to place might work with or against existing social, economic and cultural structures shaping territorial cohesion.
The concept of active subsidiarity advocated by the European Commission has important implications for European Union (EU) regional policy. This article examines the main tenets of active subsidiarity and how they relate to competing notions of territory and key regional policymaking instruments for the 2021–27 programme period. It finds that territory matters in EU regional policy, as clearly defined nested regional boundaries provide an important framework for engaging sub-national-level actors and bringing EU policymaking closer to citizens. However, a stronger recognition of territory is required if policymakers are to effectively implement active subsidiarity and place-based territorial governance policymaking models.
Full-text available
This chapter defines Europeanization somewhat differently to many analysts, defining Europeanization as the process by which the key decisions about public policies are gradually transferred to the European level (or for new policy areas, emerge at the European level).This is in contrast to definitions of Europeanization which focus on the adaption of member states to European public policies. It is argued that conventional definitions of the state, which emphasise a monopoly of the use of legitimate violence, are outdated and that there are different forms of the state which are more appropriate to describe how modern governance works. Drawing on the works of authors such as James Caporaso, it is argued that the European Union does, indeed, exhibit many of the characteristics of a modern state. In particular, it has acquired for itself vast policy-making powers as well as a degree of coercive power. In short, it can claim to be a 'policy-making state'.
Full-text available
Since its foundation the European Union has gradually developed policies that are aimed at achieving increased economic and social cohesion. This book examines the most recent of these, the concept of territorial cohesion. Territorial cohesion is the pursuit of balanced development, competitiveness, sustainable development, and good governance. These concerns are most readily addressed by the formulation of spatial strategies under the umbrella of spatial planning, that brings together a multitude of public and private actors in a process that requires cohesion, coherence and co-operation. This book traces the development of spatial planning at European level and argues that spatial planning can become a vehicle, not only for territorial cohesion, but for EU policy generally.
Detractors of European integration and many of its protagonists invoke state territoriality where the social and the spatial come together in a “Territorial-Administrative Complex”. Like the military-industrial complex claiming once to procure security, protagonists claim to guarantee democratic legitimacy. At the same time, the interests of the territorial constituencies prevail over others. The underlying notion of space is absolute and of territory that of a container. Costs and benefits are calculated in terms pertaining to it. The underlying “meta-geography” is one of boxes-in-boxes, but rather than viewing space as a container, based on academic literature in the matter, planners now pursue soft planning for soft spaces. In the face of the apparently incontestable claim of the Territorial-Administrative Complex to a monopoly on the production of democratic legitimacy, the article points out, albeit rare examples of constitutional theorists challenge this monopoly. Voting in territorial constituencies, they claim, has never been properly argued for, making it an arbitrary institution.
Macro-regional strategies seek to improve the interplay of the EU with existing regimes and institutions, and foster coherence of transnational policies. Drawing on macro-regional governance and Europeanization, this edited volume provides an overview of processes of macro-regionalization in Europe displaying evidence of their significant impact.