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The Urban Dimension in Cohesion Policy: Past Developments and Future Prospects

Rob Atkinson

Over the last 20 years the EU has implemented a wide range of initiatives on urban policy and urban matters more generally; a ‘European Urban Agenda’ has emerged and gradually the European Commission is working to ‘create’ a ‘consensus’ that may one day become an explicit EU urban policy. Indeed it may be that this is why the term Acquis Urbain has been increasingly used to suggest the building of a common European methodology of intervention, a body of knowledge and ‘good practices’ that resembles the Acquis Communautaire. This article suggests that the in the new period of cohesion policy there is the potential for a greater emphasis on the ‘urban dimension’. However, much depends on the negotiations between the European Commission and the Member States. Equally important is how Member States interpret guidance from the Commission (notably the Common Strategic Framework) and utilise specific new instruments (e.g. integrated sustainable urban development; Integrated Territorial Investment) and embed these within Partnership Agreements and then the ways in which managing authorities develop and implement Operational Programmes. Moreover, the role of cities in this process will also be important, will they simply be treated as ‘passive beneficiaries’ or active participants?

Professor Rob Atkinson, Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of the West of England, Bristol.


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