'Shaping the territory in Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders. Spatial planning and contemporary debates about devolution and independence in a comparative perspective'

UG07 Learning Centre
Lectures Talks and Workshops, Life and Environmental Sciences, Research
Wednesday 27th May 2015 (13:00-14:00)
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Part of the School Seminar Series

Speaker: Professor John Tomaney (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL)

Host: Vlad Myknenko

Several member states of the European Union are faced with a strengthening for territorial independence, or for more devolution, from one of their constituent regional units with a strong regional/national ‘identity’: Scotland in the United Kingdom, Catalonia in Spain, and Flanders in Belgium. Such claims are not new and have a long political history. What seems to be new is their intensification in a context of economic crisis of the nation-state and of the EU, leading particular regions to contest the current model of fiscal redistribution in place at the national level and demand that structural changes be implemented in order to gain the means to steer and finance their own development. A close look at the recent media, political and civic society discourses surrounding the Scottish, Catalan and Flemish questions reveal that arguments related to the ‘politics of territorial solidarity’ (Béland and Lecours, 2008), to territorial justice, spatial redistribution and the financing and planning of large-scale infrastructural developments have gained strength, perhaps at the expense of more ‘culturalist’ and identity-based arguments. This paper will present the first results of a comparative project which analyses the current debates on the devolution and/or potential independence of Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders from a spatial planning, regional policy and territorial cohesion perspective. First, it will consider whether past devolution of planning competences to the 3 nations/regions has led to the emergence of a distinctive spatial planning culture. Second, it will discuss the extent to which spatial planning and territorial development issues explicitly or implicitly figure in the recent and current debates on devolution/independence, looking in particular at how spatial planning has been mobilized in the agendas of separatist political parties in those territories. 

*This presentation is based on work conducted jointly work with Claire Colomb at UCL