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Transboundary territorial cooperation, policy learning and the Europeanisation of urban and spatial planning policies in the Mediterranean area
This research investigates whether, and how, policy learning in cities and regions occurs as a result of participation in European transboundary cooperation projects; and whether this leads to a form of ‘Europeanisation’ of territorial, spatial and urban planning policies in the Southern European context. ‘Transboundary cooperation’ refers to various forms of cooperation across national borders between cities, regions and other organisations which cooperate at various geographical scales to pursue policy objectives. The project will first develop a theoretical and conceptual framework for the analysis of the social and policy learning processes which take place between sub-central governmental actors in the framework of European territorial cooperation networks and programmes, on the basis of sociological approaches to ‘cognitive’ Europeanisation and to organisational learning. The framework will then be applied to two case-studies to answer the following questions: What are the factors which facilitate or impede processes of social and policy learning in transboundary cooperation projects? Does such cooperation lead to identifiable policy changes in the organisations involved? Is there evidence of a ‘Europeanisation of spatial planning and urban policies’ in Southern Europe through European territorial cooperation? Through a survey of, and interviews with, project partners, learning processes will be investigated ‘horizontally’ across a large set of transnational cooperation projects funded in the framework of the two INTERREG IIIB (now IVB) programmes ‘South-West Europe’ and ‘Mediterranean’. In a second stage, learning processes and policy change will then be investigated within targeted local and regional public institutions in a specific Mediterranean region, Catalonia, where public authorities have been proactively involved in European transboundary cooperation initiatives. The project seeks to contribute to current debates about the Europeanisation of planning practices and the international circulation of planning ideas.
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