CEMAT: Results and next steps
The Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT) brings together representatives of the 47 Council of Europe member states in pursuit of a shared objective: the promotion of the territorial dimension of human rights and democracy for a sustainable spatial development of the European Continent.
The Council of Europe’s activities relating to spatial planning began in 1970 in Bonn with the first European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning. They originated in concerns raised from the early 1960s by the then Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, which were reflected in the presentation in May 1968 of a historic report on Spatial /Regional planning
"A European problem".
Fifteen Council of Europe specialised ministerial conferences CEMAT, prepared under the request of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the invitation of one of its members states by the
Committee of Senior Officials of the CEMAT, have to date been organised by the Secretariat of the Council of Europe.
Since its foundation in 1970, the Specialised Ministerial Conferences of the Council of Europe CEMAT has played an invaluable role in promoting efficient territorial development policies throughout Europe, in line with major changes in the general context.
In this respect, the basic texts adopted by the Ministerial Conferences CEMAT (Cf.
Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT) – Basic texts 1970-2010, Council of Europe Publishing Editions, 2010, Territory and Landscape Series, 2010, No 3), represent policy reference documents for numerous spatial development measures and initiatives made on the European continent, and in particular for transnational and international co-operation.
Activities to raise awareness, exchange good practice and jointly explore future trends have marked the course of its forty years of activity. CEMAT has had an unquestionable impact on the improvement of territorial development legislation, policies, procedures, practices and tools in numerous countries. A particularly valuable and influential achievement of CEMAT has been the joint formulation and political adoption of common forward-looking territorial development doctrines. CEMAT has advocated the subsidiarity and reciprocity principles with a view to actively involving regions and municipalities in territorial development policies, and also as a means of preserving the unity in diversity bequeathed to Europe by its history and geography. CEMAT has further demonstrated that well-conceived – based on a balanced and harmonious relationship between social and cultural needs, economic activity and the environment – and efficiently implemented territorial development policies are essential to ensure sustainable development in the long-term and to enhance landscapes as an essential component of people’s surroundings, according to the provisions of the European Landscape Convention.
The Committee of Ministers recommended notably that the Member States of the Council of Europe use the CEMAT Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent, as a basis for spatial planning development measures, implement them in spatial development projects as appropriate, and continue establishing regional governmental and administrative bodies in order to facilitate better spatial integration of the various regions of Europe (Recommendation Rec.(2002) 1). The
CEMAT Moscow Declaration on "Future challenges: sustainable territorial development of the European continent in a changing world" adopted by the 15th Plenary Session of the CEMAT (Moscow, Russian Federation, on 9 July 2010) mandated the Committee of Senior Officials to adapt the Guiding Principles to the new territorial challenges: climate change, population ageing and social polarisation.
Next steps: the Greek Presidency of the CEMAT
The CEMAT constitutes a permanent forum, which takes into account the problems of sustainable spatial development and functions as a platform for the exchange of experiences and best practices, promotion of transfrontier, interregional and transnational cooperation, of decisions concerning important progress of spatial planning European policies and dissemination of information. It constitutes the only framework for Pan-European co-operation concerning policies of spatial development in which member states and non-member states of the European Union can meet on a equal basis at the scale of a Greater Europe.
Europe’s spatial integration is the result of an ongoing process of small steps in which co-operation among the Member States of the Council of Europe plays an essential part. The spatial development activities establish an important basis for Europe’s harmonious integration by drawing attention to the territorial dimension of democracy and social cohesion. Adopting these basic texts and taking them into consideration in spatial development policy decisions significantly facilitate Europe-wide co-operation aimed at creating a regionally-balanced and sustainable Europe. CEMAT activities take into account the needs of all the inhabitants of Europe’s regions, without compromising the fundamental rights and development prospects of future generations. They aim in particular at bringing the economic and social requirements to be met by the territory into harmony with its ecological and cultural functions and therefore contributing to long-term, large-scale and balanced spatial development. CEMAT is encouraging the formulation of long-term visions permitting comprehensive approaches and preventing undesired territorial effects.