Greek Presidency of the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers Responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT)

 

Territorial democracy: the role of public participation in the process of sustainable territorial development of the European Continent

The Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (Conférence du Conseil de l'Europe des Ministres responsables de l’Aménagement du Territoire – CEMAT), since its establishment and its 1st Conference, held in Bonn in 1970, and to this day, has been bringing together representatives of the 47 Council of Europe member states in pursuit of a shared objective: the sustainable spatial development of the European Continent. The Conference convenes regularly every three years under the presidency of the member state elected each time.

In the course of these years, CEMAT has developed a large number of recommendations and declarations on spatial and environmental policy issues, which were adopted by the COE Conference of Ministers and serve as common ground for member states in the exercise of their policies.
The Council of Europe actively promotes sustainable development in line with Recommendation Rec (2002) 1 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the Guiding Principles for sustainable spatial development of the European Continent, which were adopted by the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT).
This is a new, comprehensive spatial development policy that fosters social, economic and territorial cohesion, the preservation of nature and cultural heritage and a more balanced territorial competition. The Council’s relevant activities have been developing for over 50 years with the following key milestones:

  • The European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (London, 1969 and revised Valetta, 1992).
  • The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern, 1979).
  • The Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (Granada, 1985).
  • The European Landscape Convention (Florence, 2000).
  • The Faro Framework Convention on the value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro, 2007).

The numerous Resolutions and Recommendations issued by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to the Organisation’s member states have also guided European policies in this area and have played a key part in the preparation, interpretation or extension of international conventions.

The activities of the Council of Europe relating to spatial planning began in 1970 in Bonn with the 1st European Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning. They originated in concerns raised since the early 1960s by the then Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, which were reflected in the presentation in May 1968 of the historic report on “Regional planning – A European problem”.

The Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial/Regional Planning (CEMAT) brings together representatives of the Council’s 47 member states in pursuit of a shared objective: the sustainable spatial development of the European continent.

The CEMAT is the only pan-European framework for co-operation on spatial development policies, within which members and non-members of the European Union assemble as partners enjoying equal standing. The CEMAT is a forum for:

  • Discussing issues of sustainable spatial development and a platform for exchanging experiences and promoting transfrontier, interregional and transnational co-operation.
  • Adopting decisions on European policies on territorial development.
  • Disseminating information.

To date, fifteen CEMAT specialised Ministerial Conferences, prepared by the CEMAT Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) at the request of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, following an invitation from one of its member states, have been held, on the following subjects:

  • “Foundations of a European regional planning policy” (Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn, 1970);
  • “Objectives of a European regional planning policy” (France, La Grande Motte, 1973);
  • “Urbanisation and regional planning” (Italy, Bari, 1976);
  • “Planning of rural areas in Europe” (Austria, Vienna, 1978);
  • “Achievements and prospects for regional planning in Europe” (United Kingdom, London, 1980);
  • “Prospects of development and spatial planning in maritime regions” (Spain, Torremolinos, 1983);
  • “The evolution of the decision-making process in regional spatial planning” (Netherlands, The Hague, 1985);
  • “Rational use of land: basis or limiting factor of our development” (Switzerland, Lausanne, 1988);
  • “Instruments for achieving rational use of land” (Turkey, Ankara, 1991);
  • “Strategy for sustainable regional and spatial development in Europe beyond the year 2000” (Norway, Oslo, 1994);
  • “Sustainable regional and spatial planning in Europe and the protection of water resources” (Cyprus, Limassol, 1997);
  • “Joint spatial planning and sustainable development strategy for Europe” (Germany, Hanover, 2000);
  • “Implementation of strategies and visions for sustainable spatial development of the European continent”, (Slovenia, Ljubljana, 2003);
  • “Networks for sustainable spatial development of the European continent: Bridges over Europe” (Portugal, Lisbon, 2006);
  • “Future challenges: Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent in a Changing World” (Russian Federation, Moscow, 2010).

The activities carried out by the CEMAT since its establishment have led to the adoption of several fundamental spatial development policy documents, including:

  • The European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter (adopted at the 6th CEMAT Conference in Torremolinos in 1983);
  • The European Regional Planning Strategy (adopted at the 8th CEMAT Conference in Lausanne in 1988);
  • The Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent (adopted at the 12th CEMAT Conference in Hanover in 2000).