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Functional territories for better integrated governance: Towards spatially coordinated development in metropolitan and urban-rural area

22 May 2015

The growing territorial mismatch (between the administrative and the real-life boundaries of urban areas) and the conflicting relationship between urban and rural territories within the same areas become more and more serious impediments to integrated urban development.

This short paper aims to explore existing knowledge about these problems and examples on attempts for solutions. All these should help to find out what would be the best way for URBACT to help cities to design integrated (policy crosscutting) urban development strategies for their functional areas, improving also the urban-rural links.

 

I. The challenge of territorial mismatch and the needs of cities

1. The spatial structure of urban areas

Analysts agree that there are different cooperation areas around cities – although the typology of these areas is not universally crystallized. Ramsden, summarizing URBACT experiences, differentiates administrative, morphological and functional areas in the following way:

  • The administrative urban areas, defining urban areas based on the legal or administrative statues of municipalities. This approach corresponds to the city as an instrument used by the state to structure, organise and control a country, but also as a forum for the interaction of local actors (governance).
  • The morphological urban areas, defining urban areas based on the extent and/or continuity of the built-up area, the number of inhabitants, and proportion of the municipal areas covered by urban settlements. This area corresponds to the city or town as a physical or architectural object.
  • The functional urban areas, defining urban areas based on interactions between a core area, which may be defined according to morphological criteria, and the surrounding territories. Daily commuting flows are the central parameter in this respect, as they reflect the existence of a common labour market. (Ramsden, 2011:134)

The EUROCITIES research paper, while agreeing in the first two categories, aims for a more detailed classification of the third one:

  • … the ‘Functional Urban Area’, meaning a wider urban system that is still functionally integrated with the core city. The functional urban area includes towns and villages that are physically separated by unbuilt land or water from the built-up city, but are at the same time economically and socially highly dependent on the urban core. The most common – and easiest - way to understand this interpretation is the travel-to-work area, which would include all communities with more than a substantial percentage (eg: 20 %) of resident workers employed in the core city. Other functional ties could include travel patterns for retail, education or cultural activities. This interpretation is important, as it commonly represents the arena for formal cooperation based on ‘zero-sum‘ negotiated arrangements, typically for transport services or other joint venture companies with important service functions. This interpretation (FUA) is perhaps closest to a common understanding of the term metropolitan areas across the range of situations across Europe, although should not be strictly followed in all cases.
  • … the broader economic area which may be considered by developers as the part of the same area for investments, and could typically include access to major airports and harbours that serve large cities. This interpretation is important for cooperation on wider economic development issues such as joint marketing, competency-strategies etc., as the region can encompass a range of economic activities that are largely self-contained.
  • Finally, an even broader interpretation of rural-urban region is also possible. This would also include the rural hinterland that is indirectly connected by the proximity to the metropolitan area. (EUROCITIES, 2011:12)

On that basis the urban influence areas of large mono-centric cities can be described with five concentric circles: administrative, morphological, functional, broader economic and urban-rural areas.

The case of poly-centric urban areas is more complex. METREX (the network of European Metropolitan Regions and Areas) has set up the URMA Group, to study urban/rural relationships in metropolitan areas of influence. This group differentiates between Metropolitan areas and Metropolitan regions in the following way:

“Metropolitan area

  • functional urban area (ESPON) or metropolitan area and its area of influence
  • within which lies a larger urban zone (LUZ – urban audit and a core city)
  • rural/urban policy issues within metropolitan areas include urban sprawl and the merging of cities, towns and villages
  • rural/urban policy measures responses can include greenbelts, green wedges and urban fringe management

Metropolitan region and beyond

  • one or several core cities
  • less intensive urban/rural relationships
  • complementarity of functions (urban services/rural resources)
  • this is the cohesion policy area and the focus of this publication
  • the foundation is socio-economic solidarity and rural resource use and development for mutual benefit.” (METREX – Hamburg, appr. 2011:9)

2. The administrative fragmentation of metropolitan areas and its consequences

Data about the administrative, morphological and functional urban areas of European cities show substantial fragmentation of government. “ … there are many cities, where the politically defined city is much smaller than the continuity of the built up area. … Out of the 66,5 million people living in the morphological areas of the listed cities, 32,1 millions, i.e. almost half, live in areas, where the administrative city is less than half of the continuous urban area! … All this means that half of the European metropolitan population lives in urban areas, which can hardly be controlled by the core city, as this city is less than half of the size of the whole urban area.”  (Tosics, 2011:9)

What can be the negative consequences if people live in an urban area which is governed not by one but by many different local authorities? Ramsden summarizes the consequences as follws:

"Fragmentation of governance matters because it affects how cities are governed, which in turn affects the quality of life of citizens and perhaps the productivity of the city’s economic fabric.

  • Fragmented cities may be less prosperous than they could be because economic decisionmaking is sub-optimal and thus economic, growth is constrained – congestion, for example, is a major cost on movement and efficiency.
  • Fragmented cities may be more likely to suffer from social polarisation and problems of social cohesion as resources are unequally distributed and poor communes can only raise local taxes from poorer people.
  • Fragmented cities have ‘free rider’ populations in suburban municipalities who benefit from the city for work, culture and services but do not pay taxes to it.
  • Environmental problems such as air and water pollution, as well as urban sprawl, may not be tackled so effectively because land use planning decisions may be the result of competitive bidding between communes and transport systems are compromised. Ramsden (2011:135)

It would be a mistake to conclude that administrative fragmentation affects only half of the population of European metropolitan areas. “In reality this fragmentation, leading to the discussed fiscal and social problems, is even more wide-spread as it not only affect spatially continuous urban areas but also the much broader category of functional urban areas where intensive commuting creates the links between the otherwise independent settlements. In other words, it affects not only morphological but also the functional urban areas.” (Tosics, 2011:11)

II. Different influence areas around cities: empirical analysis

Not only the agreement on the types of urban influence areas is missing in the literature but also the comparative empirical analyses are relatively rare. The last years brought two novelties in this regard: an effort for precise definition and another one to collect information from a large number of European cities.

1. A more precise definition of metropolitan areas

The OECD made special efforts to make the concept of “functional urban area” more precise, allowing to collect comparable data across European cities. Each functional urban area is an economic unit characterised by densely inhabited “urban cores” and “hinterlands” whose labour market is highly integrated with the cores. The OECD developed a calculation process which started with the identification of core municipalities. The geographic building blocks to define urban areas are the municipalities (LAU2). The cores are defined using the population grid from the global dataset Landscan, referred to circa year 2000. Polycentric cores and the hinterlands of the functional areas were identified on the basis of commuting data (travel from home – to – work) referred around the 2000 census year. The urban hinterland was identified as worker catchment area, including all settlements from where at least 15% of the workers commute to any of the core settlement(s). OECD, 2012:89

Looking on our five-scale typology, this definition is the closest to category 3 (the Functional Urban Area).

On the basis of this methodology OECD defined four categories of urban areas, depending on the population size of the total functional urban area: small urban areas with a population of 50 – 200 thousand; medium-sized urban areas (200 – 500 thousand), metropolitan areas (500 thousand – 1,5 million); large metropolitan areas (above 1,5 million population).

In the process to identify the FUR-s the integrated labour market areas were looked for. The outcome for the 29 OECD countries was the definition of 1175 functional urban areas across. These can be found in the public database.   

From this database the data for the European OECD countries can be summarized, which cover 659 functional urban areas (among which 29 large metropolitan areas and 88 metropolitan areas).

European OECD Countries

Large metro (1,5 mill - )

Metropolit. area (0,5 mill-1,5 m)

Medium urban (200 th– 500 th)

Small urban (50 th– 200 th)

SUMM

Share of pop in FUAs (%)

Austria

1

2

3

-

6

56,5

Belgium

1

3

4

3

11

58,9

Czech Rep

1

2

2

11

16

45,6

Denmark

1

3

-

-

4

53,8

Estonia

-

1

-

2

3

55,3

Finland

-

1

2

4

7

49,7

France

3

12

29

39

83

62,8

Germany

6

18

49

36

109

64,3

Greece

1

1

1

6

9

49,8

Hungary

1

-

7

2

10

49,7

Ireland

-

1

1

3

5

50,3

Italy

4

7

21

42

74

50,8

Luxembourg

-

-

1

-

1

80,2

Netherlands

1

4

11

19

35

72,1

Norway

-

1

3

2

6

44,5

Poland

2

6

16

34

58

55,2

Portugal

1

1

3

8

13

53,9

Slovak Rep

-

1

1

6

8

36,9

Slovenia

-

1

1

-

2

39,1

Spain

2

6

22

46

76

62,7

Sweden

1

2

1

8

12

52,7

Switzerland

-

3

3

4

10

55,6

United Kingdom

3

12

44

42

101

73,0

SUMMARY

29

88

225

317

659

 

The table shows large differences among the countries regarding the share of the population in functional urban areas. This share ranges from 60+ percent (Luxembourg, UK, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France) to below 45 percent (Slovakia, Slovenia, Norway). The first category can be called as densely urbanized countries (not only regarding the share of urban dwellers but also the commuting links between cities and their hinterlands).

A new OECD data analysis (which does not include all EU countries yet – from the large metropolitan areas Budapest is missing) refers to 28 large metropolitan areas in EU countries, ranging from the 11,6 million Paris and the 10,9 London metropolitan areas till the 1,7 million Turin and the 1,6 million Stockholm metropolitan areas (OECD, 2012:90-92). In this analysis besides the methodology to delimit the metropolitan areas another novelty is the calculation of population density on urban land, as opposed to the total land surface of the metro area. Density on urban land shows much better the real residential character of the area, highlighting cities, which show low density in their total metropolitan area while in reality their urban areas are quite densely populated. Madrid, Rome, Lisbon, Turin, Paris, Athens, Warsaw, Munich, Vienna belong to this type.

The comparison of the density gradients, i.e. the decrease of density with the distance to the urban center, shows the large differences between European urban areas as opposed to the much more sprawled American ones. On this basis also the difference in the share of public transport as opposed to individual car use, can be studied. 

2. Information about the spatial structure of metropolitan areas from a large number of European cities

The EUROCITIES Metropolitan Areas Working Group launched in 2010-2011 an extensive survey to collect description of metropolitan institutional structures in European cities. In the first wave of data collection 21 cities[1] answered the detailed questionnaire which was developed by Iván Tosics. The questionnaire aimed to explore all cooperation areas around the city, from the suburban zone till the broadest economic development areas. EUROCITIES is just now in the process to extend the research to a larger number of cities.

Such research requires quite strict methodology, otherwise the answers of cities remain difficult to evaluate. Clear definition on the concept of metropolitan areas (and their different levels) has to be clarified at the beginning to achieve consistency in the answers of the cities what types of metropolitan areas (administrative, functional units, formal or informal cooperation areas) they mention and what not. Also quite special situations, such as cross-border areas, network-type cooperations between cities may occur among the answers.

The detailed analysis of the survey results may be expected by the end of 2013, on the basis of the extended pool of city answers. Initial evaluation has verified the differences between the agglomeration area (day-to-day cooperation, transport, sewage, garbage functions) and the metropolitan area (broader economic cooperation area, business relations, cultural links, leisure-tourism functions). There are big variations, whether real cooperation exists in formalized way or at least informally on agglomerational and on the metropolitan level.

•      In most cases neither the agglomeration area (day-to-day cooperation) nor the metropolitan area (broader economic cooperation area) coincides with the administrative boundaries (county, region).

•      If cities want to strengthen the formalized cooperation forms some types of administration or organizations are needed to be established.

•      These must constantly be revised taking the dynamism of reality into account.

•      Otherwise informal, flexible cooperations and planning-based approaches are possible.

One of the problematic issues to discover is that of the rural-urban regions – cities usually did not mention among their answers when listing the spatial influence areas such areas beyond the functional urban area which might be finished in rural territories.

Some further results of the initial analysis will be mentioned in a later chapter of this paper.

III. Different models for the governance of metropolitan areas

The previous chapter has shown that there are different levels of metropolitan areas aroud cities. This chapter explores what models of governance can be applied in these areas.

1. Main forms of governance in metropolitan areas

According to the governance analysis prepared for the Cities of Tomorrow programme (Tosics, 2011) different types of following governance models can be applied in metropolitan areas.

  • The first approach aims for structured, pre-defined fixed boundary metropolitan areas. Besides the Metrex suggested metropolitan government (either directly elected, or nominated with elected politicians or including also private sector players) this approach includes the option of top-down amalgamation, and top-down fixed boundary government.
  • The second is a flexible approach, aiming for informal cooperation in flexible spatial structures. According to OECD (2012:212) this can take bottom-up flexible form, but also voluntary investment coordination, urban partnership agreements (charters/contracts), inter-governmental memoranda of understanding, etc.
  • The third approach does not concentrate on the institutional forms but on the content and suggests strategic planning as the key mechanism for strengthening the metropolitan area level.
  • Also a fourth approach can be defined, in which metropolitan cooperation is based on strategic project. An example for that is the case of Lyon where for the sake of a trans-regional railway project a provisional steering mechanism has been launched outside the institutional framework that ensures the autonomy of each local authority, carefully avoiding any leadership of one authority over another (Idt et al, 2012:230).

These approaches are based on quite different understandings of the causes of problems in the functioning of urban areas and of the opportunities the different forms of cooperation between municipalities can bring. The different approaches can even apply simultaneously to the same metropolitan area, either to suite different competences or in recognition of different definitions of the metropolitan area itself. (EUROCITIES, 2011)

2. Links between the different cooperation areas around cities and the different models for metropolitan area cooperation

The information collected so far by the EUROCITIES Metropolitan Areas Working Group aimed for describing all the different metropolitan area levels of the cities to be able to make more precise which governance model-variants occur amongst these. Preliminary analysis of the results has shown that the governance models do not link exclusively to certain cities: each city has more potential delimitations of metropolitan areas and these can belong to different governance models.

The following table highlights the case of Birmingham. Around the city of 1 million residents five levels of metropolitan areas can be defined. None of them has recently stable, fixed boundary government (the county and the region were of this type but have been abolished in 1986 and in 2010 respectively). The LEP is a bottom-up flexible governance structure, while the agglomeration and the metropolitan area are informal levels.

Table 1. Governance arrangements around the city of Birmingham

Areas around the city

Functions of the diff. areas

Legal background

Note

1. Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (1,9 million) Birmingham, Solihull + 7 settl.

2. Birmingham agglo (2,3 mill) Physically built area + 10 km. Green belt.

3. West Middland Metropolitan County (2,55 mil). (two main parts: Birmingham – Black Country)

4. Birmingham Metropolitan Area (3,6 million): County + towns with 30-60.th inhabitants including rural areas

5. West Middlands Region (5,3 mil)

1. Not clearly decided yet: may contain strategic planning, economic development, transport, culture and the creative industries, tourism and inward investment, business support, skills, the green economy and housing. Finance comes from business oriented public measures. 

2. No functions

3. County: Integrated Transport authority (crosses several LEPs, containing only some part of the Birmingham LEP) under geographical reorganisation.

4. Non

5. Non

1. LEP system introduced in 2010. (local governments had the right which LEP to choose) Voluntary partnership. It has boards and working groups, members are mixture of political leaders and business leaders.

2. No organisation

3. The County was established by national law in 1974, and originally had a council. The council was abolished in 1986 and replaced by the current governance by the political leaders of the 7 districts.

4. There has never been any governance arrangements at the Birmingham Metropolitan Area level

5. The Region was just abolished in 2010.

The new British Government that was elected early in 2010 announced that it was abolishing the English regions. The Government announced that the regions would be replaced by "Local Enterprise Partnerships" (LEPs). These would be at the sub-regional level
and were expected to reflect functional economic areas - metropolitan areas but also some non-metropolitan areas. The regions have now been abolished, and 99% of England is now covered by LEPs.

Source: EUROCITIES Metropolitan Areas Working Group survey (2011), compilation of Iván Tosics.

Birmingham is also included into the OECD analysis on large metropolitan areas (OECD, 2012:91). According to that the population in the total functional urban area is 1,892 million. The population on urban land is 1,679 million, this can be understood as the population living in the closely related morphological areas which are integrated (more than 15% of the residents of any of the cores commute to work in the other core). The table above shows that the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP area (Birmingham and Solihull and additional 7 settlements) equals in population number that of the OECD defined metropolitan area. Consequently, if the LEP gets finally substantial urban development and regulatory functions (such as listed in the second column), this could became a governance level which is much closer to the urban reality than the city government of the administrative area of Birmingham, covering only 1 million residents.

Some preliminary results from the EUROCITIES Metropolitan Areas Working Group survey can be summarized in the following statements.

Regarding bottom-up vs top down cooperation models in metropolitan areas, in real life the bottom-up initiatives are easier in polycentric areas, between settlements of similar size (Lille, to some extent Stuttgart). In monocentric metropolitan areas usually top-down initiatives, launched from the national or regional level, are needed to initiate bottom-up cooperations (Brussels). In the lack of such higher level top-down initiatives the bottom-up cooperation between the large metropolis and its surrounding, much smaller settlements are ad-hoc or even non-existent at all (Budapest).

There are also other types of territorial cooperation existing, such as network governance (Rennes-Nantes, Malmö-Lund, Linköping-Norrköping, Katowice city association, Helsinki and surrounding cities), which seems to be a special phenomenon, with links to functional, area-based cooperations which need further studying. Strategic planning or large projects might be an „easier” first step towards cooperation where other, more concrete methods are less feasible (Vienna, Katowice, Birmingham, Ghent…)

The identification of concrete examples on the spatially broadest urban – rural area links need further work. Potentially all governance models, except for the first, could be applied to such areas.

3. The dynamism of the metropolitan governance models

Globalization and also economic transition lead to changes in urban functions. The general tendency is a shift from the earlier, more fixed to more flexible solutions. “Regions, provinces and municipalities no longer have the task of providing services – in a monopolistic way – to a given population (and voters) within a pre-defined space. Responsibilities overlap and the provision of services as well as their use do not respect territorial boundaries.” Zanon, 2013:22

It is not possible to differentiate a priory between the governance models in general: innovative, flexible solutions are possible with all the four cooperation models – depending upon the given circumstances. One criterion, however, is of growing importance: the involvement of the affected people, to deal with the democratic deficit problems.

4. Decreasing importance of spatial proximity?

Andrew Copus (Nordregio and University of the Highlands and Islands) discussed in one of his recent presentations (Rural-Urban Seminar, Metz, November 2012) the two competing views of economic space. Although spatial geography still matters, a new phenomenon, “organised proximity” is increasingly important. According to the latter social proximity is becoming more and more independent of geographical distance. New spaces of flows develop.

According to his view we are in transition: some socio-economic processes continue to be sensitive to spatial proximity while others become more and more liberated from distance through new transport and ICT tools. This new tendency can be analysed from the perspective of the type of development processes (the move of people, of goods, of services…). The idea can be applied to the case of urban-rural cooperation, which can take three forms: 1) in the usual understanding of physical city-regions; 2) as generic types (without being directly spatially linked); 3) as organised proximity (with no link to spatial proximity at all). Different socio-economic functions can best be performed differently across these 3 forms, as it will be shown later in this paper.

IV. Policy strategies on different levels of administration

Spatially coordinated development in metropolitan and urban-rural areas require not only governance models on the different levels of these areas but also policy strategies. One of the most widely aimed strategies for metropolitan development is that towards compact cities.

OECD (2012:172) summarizes the key policy strategies for the compact city into 5 main strategies, having altogether 20 policies.

1. Set explicit compact city goals

2. Encourage dense and proximate development

3. Retrofit existing built-up areas

4. Enhance diversity and quality of life

5. Minimise adverse negative effects

The broadest strategy is to set explicit compact city goals. This requires a national urban policy framework and the encouragement of metropolitan wide strategic planning.

The national level has to play important role in strengthening the agglomerational and the metropolitan cooperations around larger cities. Based on the examples of the EUROCITIES survey good examples of such national frameworks can be detected in France, Germany, Switzerland, Finnland, while promising discussions seem to go on in Sweden, Poland, Norway, Belgium, UK.

OECD considers metropolitan wide strategic planning as the other key policy towards more compact city development. As an European example the case of Paris is analysed: its metropolitan planning framework is the Schéma Directeur de le Region Ile-de-France (SDRIF). This document is a spatial vision but also an urban planning document determining the areas where local authorities may develop their projects. The major public transport development plans and eight large state supported programmes werediscussed with the 1281 communes and 8 departments of the area.

V. The urban – rural issue

1. Growing need for functional territorial approach

The issue of functional geographies is on the agenda since many years, while the specific question of urban-rural relationships emerged only in the last decade or so. One of the main reasons for that could be the change in the European Community policy structure: up till few years ago Rural policy was part of Cohesion, then it was shifted to Agricultural policy. According to Jan Olbrycht Rural would be very important for territorial cohesion but there is no chance to see it coming back to Cohesion policy. Recently also Cohesion and CAP policies are more and more separated in their aims, monies, institutional organization. (Olbrycht’s presentation at the Urban-Rural seminar, Metz, November 2012). 

At the same seminar Charlina Vitcheva admitted that administrative borders put artificial limits to policies. Territorial cohesion has to be strengthened and for that functional urban-rural linkages have to be improved. As detailed knowledge was missing, the EP asked the Commission to produce knowledge. Olbrycht was the initiator of the preparatory action in the framework of which OECD prepared a study.

In the previous chapters a detailed overview has been given about the functional urban areas, covering towns and villages that are physically separated from the built-up city, but are economically and socially highly dependent on the urban core. A novelty in the research of FUA’s is the systematic approach developed by OECD on the basis of integrated labour market areas. As a result of this there is now a database available on 1175 functional urban areas across 29 OECD countries, from which the data for the 23 European OECD countries cover 659 functional urban areas.

2. The speciality of the urban-rural linkages

However much is written lately about urban-rural areas, a precise definition is hard to find. The most recent OECD paper deals with different types of linkages between urban and rural areas – commuting, migration, provision of public services, “… reciprocal provision of public goods and amenities (e.g. environmental goods, urban consumption, etc.), and other linkages related to innovation processes, transport network relationships and territorial identity.” (OECD, 2013:3) The large diversity in these linkages lead to the reality that there are also different types of urban-rural linkages regarding the spatial character, as physical proximity is important but not exclusionary aspect of such linkages.

About the spatial aspects of urban-rural linkages a very good presentation has been given at the Urban-Rural seminar (Metz, November 2012) by Andrew Copus. In order to highlight the details of this inspirational presentation below detailed quotes can be found from Copus’ recent paper.

"Many of the relationships which are commonly proposed as a basis for urban-rural partnership policies are less and less likely to involve contiguous “hinterlands”. Instead they may connect “generic” rural and urban areas which are not necessarily adjacent to each other, or they may be more completely ‘footloose’, not requiring any distinction between urban and rural. For example farmers and other rural businesses generally engage in transactions with urban customers or suppliers, but not necessarily local ones. Rural recreation and tourism by urban people is by no means restricted to the immediate vicinity of the home city. Planting trees for carbon capture cannot be directly linked to emissions from the neighbouring urban areas, and most rural renewable energy is distributed via a national grid.” (Copus, 2012:6)

New aspects for the analysis can be learnt from the recent results of economic geography studies.

"The effectiveness of a region’s business network depends both upon its local network “density”, degree of “embeddedness”, together with the associated human and social capital, and upon its connections to more distant sources of specialist information. These two capabilities are sometimes referred to as “bonding” and “bridging” respectively. In essence, bridging capability channels information into the local network, bonding distributes it among local firms and entrepreneurs, facilitating collective learning. Thus Johannisson et al (2002 p310) in their analysis of a furniture cluster in Sweden concluded: “The combination of dense local networks, building an absorptive capacity for external influences through any member business, and globally significant firms, provides competitive strength to all individual firms as well as to the (business) community as a whole”. Nijkamp expresses the same idea as follows: “Locality and globality are two sides of the same medal in an open network” (2003 p396). Bathelt et al 2004 coined the memorable phrase “local buzz and global pipeline” to describe regions in which high levels of local interaction combine with effective channels which bring in exogenous knowledge which supports local innovation. Huggins and Johnston (2009) make the same point.

A more extreme view is that new forms of communication and transport are abrogating the role played by physical distance over patterns of economic and social interaction, and thus, indirectly, the forces of agglomeration which ultimately account for urban and rural settlement patterns. Increasing freedom from locational constraints allows less tangible aspects, such as common interests and trust to determine the pattern of relationships. … The forces of agglomeration, …, are today driven by shared “support resources”, social embeddedness, or access to transportation hubs, rather than by business interaction with other local firms.” (Copus, 2012:10)

The detailed analysis of Copus explores three broad ‘modes’ of intervention, regarding urban-rural linkages.

"The first of these, ‘thematic urban-rural cooperation’ is probably most similar to a conventional (contiguous) city-hinterland policy concept, but with the proviso that individual spatial characteristics of different functional interactions (themes) should be respected, and not forced to compromise within integrated programmes. The second ‘mode’ is termed ‘generic’ urban-rural cooperation. This is intended to acknowledge the declining importance of contiguity in urban-rural relationships, concentrating more upon facilitating cooperation between rural and urban spaces, without requiring contiguity. The third ‘mode’ goes a step further, and seeks to foster ‘translocal globalisation’ of rural businesses, by nurturing ‘organised proximity’ for which contiguity and proximity are irrelevant. (Copus, 2012:13)

The conclusion of the analysis of Copus raises doubts, to what extent the urban-rural relationships can be dealt within the framework of spatially oriented functional geographies.

"To sum up, it appears that the European (urban and rural) economic landscape is currently in a state of transition, between a twentieth century reality in which physical distance and agglomeration was a key driver, to a twentyfirst century one in which ‘organised proximity’ will play an increasing role in relation to some (not all) kinds of activity, provided that certain (infrastructural and human capital) preconditions are met. Faced with this kind of complexity it seems difficult to conceive of ‘functional regions’ or ‘city regions’ as bounded spaces within which to implement urban-rural cooperation policies. (Copus, 2012:11)

Even so, it seems to be possible to find compromise between the ever more complex urban-rural relationships and the European policies.

"The legislative architecture of the current proposals for Cohesion and Rural Development policies for the 2014-20 period does not provide an obvious ‘niche’ for interventions to support urban-rural relationships. However the first mode (‘thematic urban-rural cooperation’) seems most appropriate within the context of the multi-fund local development option, whilst the second and third modes (‘generic’ and ‘organised proximity’) could be developed within either a national or a regional programme.” (Copus, 2012:13)

From all the above it might become clear that the territorial relationships between urban and rural areas are very complex. The governance of such relationships can partially be based on functional regions (similarly to the suggestion of the Eurocities research, including the rural hinterland that is indirectly connected by the proximity to the metropolitan area). However, the labour market flow based functional urban areas can not catch the whole spectrum of urban-rural relationships, neither from spatial perspective (especially not in non metropolitan regions, where labour flows are less intense and less representative of actual territorial relationships), nor because of the growing importance of non-spatial aspects. Thus the warning of the still ongoing OECD research seems to be fully justified: high flexibility is needed, many different governance arrangements (formal, informal, conflictual, cooperative) have to be used, adjusted to the concrete case.

VI. Conclusions

The emerging urban-rural issue is a second best approach to handle the policy failure of the European Cohesion policy, the fact that rural development was separated from cohesion policy. The radical change of the institutional structure, bringing back rural policy under the umbrella of territorial policies seems not be possible. Thus a new layer will be established: the common strategic framework will aim to put together all the five funds. ITIs will be broadened for all the five funds, across the instruments. CLLD (coming from LEADER) will also be extended to the urban areas, allowing better linkages between urban-rural areas.

For this new setting to function well, the functional integrated territorial approach is of key importance. The last years brought many new results, on the basis of which the planning and implementation of Structural Funds programmes can substantially be improved. This paper gave an overview on EUROCITIES research and the attempts of OECD to make the knowledge of functional urban areas more precise. In parallel very inspirational thinking is going on to highlight the specificities of the urban-rural issue, which is of key importance to bridge over the ever more separated urban and rural development policies and financing pots.

URBACT has important knowledge base in regard of the functional urban areas and the integrated approach. This existing knowledge could efficiently be extended with the so far missing aspect of urban-rural relationships (regarding which some of the ongoing URBACT networks can produce relevant results). In this way URBACT could contribute with new knowledge – potentially in cooperation with EUROCITIES and OECD – to help the ambitious aims of the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy towards integrated territorial development.

URBACT, through its long history of mixed city-networks (involving cities from convergence and competitiveness regions), has far the best overview about the national differences regarding functional urban areas and urban-rural areas – both regarding their problems and the potential handling of these with EU influence.

REFERENCES

Copus, A, 2011: Effective Instruments Supporting Territorial Development. Urban-rural relationships in the new century: clarifying and updating the intervention logic. Conference paper http://www.mrr.gov.pl/english/Regional_Development/Regional_Policy/NSRD/doc_str/Documents/Copus_Urban_Rural_Linkages.pdf

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Wayenberg, E, 2012: Towards a city-regional policy in Flanders from the bottom-up. In: URP 1/2012, 116-128

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