The crowded landscape of the Urban Agendas. Opportunities and path dependencies in Cohesion Policy 2021-2027

Autor principal:
Serafín Pazos Vidal (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities )
Sesión 8, Sesión 8
Día: viernes, 12 de julio de 2019
Hora: 11:00 a 12:45
Lugar: Aula 102

On May 2016 the EU member states' ministers responsible for urban matters agreed what was called the “Pact of Amsterdam”. This result of decades long intergovernmental urban activism (Faludi 2009; Pazos-Vidal 2017, 2019) that resulted in a form of metagovernance (as in Jessop 2004) evolving type II to a type I form of Multilevel Governance (Hooghe and Marks 2003). For over a decade the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RSFC, 2008), a French-led EU intergovernmental level aimed to develop a single format to formulate and evaluate the development and implementation of sustainable policies in cities. The European Commission also developed during that period the Smart Cities and Communities Initiative and the Covenant of Mayors (initially for Energy and latterly also to deal with Climate at EU and then at international level), in addition to about two dozen other policy-specific urban governance tools or funding instruments.

At global level the Sustainable Development Goal 11 Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable was adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 and the agreement Development of Sustainable Cities (HABITAT III) was signed in Quito in October 2016. Not to mention the ISO standards for Sustainable development (ISO 37120: 2014 and others) that many national governments and the private sector have developed and which go beyond technical standards to deal with policy and politically laden concepts such as good urban governance.

On the one hand this crowded, overlapping and often disjointed landscape provide policy entrepreneurs (Kingdon 1984) with ample choice to identify and pick and choose from a vast array of urban governance and policy delivery instruments and clustering around Transnational Municipal Networks (Kern and Bulkeley 2009).

On the other hand, such an array of similar instruments is extremely difficult to navigate let alone to articulate them in any coherent sense, risking the generation of policy silos and policy communities (Haas 1922, Adshead 1996) competing for resources.

The urban dimension EU Cohesion Policy precisely provides both a policy, governance, and rather uniquely, a dedicated financial support as well namely through Integrated Sustainable Urban Development and Urban Innovative Actions (Article 7 and 8 ERDF Regulation 2014-2020, European Commission 2011). The ongoing 2021-2027 EU Cohesion Policy reform provided an opportunity for a more integrative approach among these various EU and global initiatives namely the SDG 11. However, the European Structural and Investment Funds new cross-cutting Policy Objective 5 supporting locally-led development strategies and sustainable urban development across the EU is more reflective of existing path dependencies than of a meaningful attempt to mainstream and integrate these various other agendas. Equally the Pact of Amsterdam, the output of whose pilot partnerships have not yet been absorbed into new more urban-sensitive EU policies risks being overtaken by the development of the Leipzig Charter 2.0. Drawing from an Actor-Centred Institutionalist perspective (Scharpf 2009) this presentation aims to look at the conflicting agendas that prevent a more coherent multilevel (global, EU, national and subnational) urban policy landscape from developing.

Basic references:

European Commission Cities of tomorrow challenges, visions, ways forward.Brussels: European Commission, 2011.

European Commission. The urban dimensión of EU policies – Key features for an EU Urban Agenda. COM (2014) 490 Final, Bruselas

French EU Presidency, La ville durable et solidaire. Déclaration finale des ministres en charge dudéveloppement urbain, 25 novembre 2008 .

Hooghe, L. and G. Marks, “Unravelling the Central State, but How?, Types of Multi-level Governance”, The American Political Science Review, vol. 97, 2 (2003): 233–243.

Jessop, B. ‘Multi-level governance and multi-level meta-governance’, in Multi-Level Governance, ed. Ian Bache and Matthew Flinders (Oxford: OUP, 2004),49-74.

Kern K. y H. Bulkeley, H. “Cities, Europeanization and Multi-level Governance: Governing Climate Change through Transnational Municipal Networks”, JCMS, vol. 47, 2 (2009):309–332.

Netherlands EU Presidency. “Establishing the Urban Agenda for the EU. ‘Pact of Amsterdam’.Agreed at the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers Responsible for Urban Matters on 30 May 2016 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands” (2016) .

Pazos-Vidal, S. “The New EU urban agenda as a case of policy entrepreneurialism. From territorial policies to metagovernance”, Paper presented to "The Great Awakening Regional: New Directions" RSA Annual Conference 2017, Cohesion Policy at a Crossroads II session. Dublin, Ireland 6 th June 2017

Pazos-Vidal, Serafin. Subsidiarity and EU Multilevel Governance. Actors, Networks and Agendas. Abingdon: Routledge, 2019.

Palabras clave: urban agenda, multilevel governance, metagoverance, EU, SDG, HABITAT, ISO