Defence of dissertation in the field of spatial planning, Dipl.-Ing. Eva Purkarthofer

The EU provides policies for cities and regions – it is up to planners to take them into action.
city view

The public examination of the doctoral dissertation of Dipl.-Ing. Eva Purkarthofer, will be held on 3o November 2018 at 12.00 at the Aalto University School of Engineering. The title of the dissertation is Understanding Europeanisation from Within: The Interpretation, Implementation and Instrumentalisation of European Spatial Planning in Austria and Finland. Field of the dissertation is spatial planning and transportation engineering, European spatial planning.

The ties between the European Union and urban and regional planning in the member states are manifold, ever-changing and much debated. To clarify these complex connections, this dissertation suggests distinguishing between three types of European influences: financial instruments, legal regulations and discursive policy documents, each of which can affect urban and regional development.

The dissertation argues that in order to understand these effects, it is necessary to scrutinise the application of EU inputs in national, regional and local contexts. It draws on examples from Austria and Finland and asks who the actors responding to European spatial planning are, what policies they consider relevant for planning in their respective context and how they apply EU policies to support planning goals and processes.

The findings suggest that actors and the ways in which they interpret, implement and instrumentalise specific policies play a crucial role in determining the outcome of European inputs. These domestic applications of EU policies reveal a leeway of planning actors, regarding both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ instruments. Examples for ‘hard’ policies include legal instruments like the Natura 2000 directives and financial tools like the INTERREG programmes, while ‘soft’ policies refer to discursive strategies such as the EU Urban Agenda.

Thus, while the EU provides different policies related to urban and regional development, their realisation lies in the hands of domestic actors. A connection between the EU and planning in the member states consequently requires commitment from two sides: Planners and administrators in the member states need to take an active role in implementing EU policies and connecting them to local and regional planning processes and agendas, while European policy makers have to find ways to foster interest in European matters.

Opponent: Associate Professor Giancarlo Cotella, Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning, Politecnico di Torino, Italy

Supervisor: Professor Raine Mäntysalo, Aalto University School of Engineering, Department of Built Environment

Electronic dissertation:

Doctoral candidate’s contact information: Eva Purkarthofer, [email protected]

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