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What if European integration were guided by a spatial vision?

September 2021

Territorial integration of the European continent is a long process shaping the fabric of economic, social and cultural functional relationships. With discussions on post COVID-19 pandemic recovery ongoing, we reflect on possible past lessons, asking what if European integration was guided by a spatial vision? Scenarios of different European pasts can help to illustrate the impact policy changes can have, e.g. in direction of a European integration aiming at a future for all places and people in Europe.

Revisiting declarations by Altiero Spinelli, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman and George Marshall shows that ideas for something like an early European Spatial Development Perspective or Territorial Agenda in 1948 are not too farfetched. Some of those declarations were more ambitious than current debates about Europe. In that sense, Delors’ call for a broad vision of the European territory in 1989 could very well have been launched 40 years earlier, e.g. by Robert Schuman, Foreign Minister of France at the time.

Let’s imagine, how Europe could have evolved post World War II if developments were guided by an integrated spatial vision for Europe. Such a vision could then have underpinned the US financed European Recovery Programme, better known as ‘Marshall Plan’, focussing on ‘building back better’ and subsequently making Europe an integrated space. This certainly also would have meant letting go of the devastating war in a ‘collective amnesia’, and moving on for rebuilding post-war Europe.

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Topic Scenarios & visions


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