Big A - lecture

Klaus R. Kunzmann "Sailing ahead: Which Future for European Space?”

The idea of Europe, of Europe as a peace project is loosing popularity. General dissatisfaction with market-driven European political and administrative governance, unsolved territorial conflicts, widening economic and social disparities, vanishing trans-European solidarity and conflicts at European external borders are raising nationalism and regionalism across the continent. The ambitious European cohesion policy aims to cushion the power of the market by addressing growing spatial polarisation, though there is little hope that the ambitious European regional policies could do more than just raising hopes, monitoring development, communicating successful strategies and cushioning spatial decline by symbolic local and regional development projects. All trend explorations show a growing concentration of economic development in a few European city regions, which are favoured by globalisation processes.

Efforts of the European union to coordinate spatial development in interregional, macro -regions, have resulted in concepts for the Baltic, the Alpine region or for the Danube regions. They suggest and promote spatially balanced urban systems, networks of cities and efficient intercity transportation networks. The development of Trans-European transport networks (TENs) is just one of these ambitious projects. Though there are winners and losers. The arguments of the winners are compelling, Europe as whole, particularly the European economy, can only benefit from better trans-European infrastructure. The winners are among others, the core city regions in Western Europe, the large global communication companies, the logistics corporations, and the roads construction industries. The losers are all those regions in the hinterland of the corridors and their hubs, and the people, who prefer to remain in their traditional villages and towns in the hinterland of the city regions. An economic and social divide is gradually replacing the former ideological divide in Europe.

At present, there is not much courage to develop territorial visions for Europe. The conflicts in the East and in the Middle East dominate politics and media. Which future should be imagined for the „old“ Europe in between the US and China? Can Europe sail ahead, or will it stay behind the US and China? A few suggestions will be presented.

Text: courtesy of  Klausa R. Kunzmanna

Photo: courtesy of Klausa R. Kunzmanna