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European Union Competition Policy and the European Territorial Cohesion Agenda An Impossible Reconciliation? State Aid Rules and Public Service Liberalization through the European Spatial Planning Lens

European Union Competition Policy and the European Territorial Cohesion Agenda An Impossible Reconciliation? State Aid Rules and Public Service Liberalization through the European Spatial Planning Lens

European Planning Studies 22(3): 459-480

The territorial and spatial planning impacts of European Union (EU) economic and competition policies have remained under-researched in the field of European spatial planning, in contrast to other EU policy fields. This briefing explores how two elements of the EU competition policy, the regulation of state aid and the liberalization of services of general interest (SGI) , have significant implications for the pursuit of the objective of territorial cohesion through spatial planning and territorial development policies at different scales. The paper first reviews the development of the concept of territorial cohesion in the EU discourse and policy agenda since the mid-1990s, as well as the contribution of public services (Services of General Interest, or SGI in EU jargon) to it. It, then, reviews how the EU state aid rules and liberalization policies affect the state's ability to intervene (i) in support of sub-national territories which are lagging behind or suffering decline, and (ii) in the provision of public services across the national territory, specifically in peripheral regions or areas where the provision is not catered for by the market. The conclusion of the paper outlines the additional challenges to the pursuit of territorial cohesion in the EU posed by the post-2008 economic crisis and suggests avenues for future research.

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Accession: 036655967

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DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2012.744384

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