Investigating the partnership approach in the EU Urban Agenda from the perspective of soft planning

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At the European level, several strategic documents concerned with spatial and urban development have been published during the last decades. While these documents are essential to communicate European ideas and objectives, they are often regarded least influential in practice due to their abstract nature, legally non-binding status and lack of allocated resources. Though these limitations apply to the EU Urban Agenda, this recently published policy paper introduces partnerships as a new implementation tool. The partnerships can be regarded as innovative in two respects: On the one hand, they involve new actors, most importantly cities, in European policy debates. On the other hand, they ensure the anchorage of the Urban Agenda with a broad range of actors at various spatial scales without challenging its legally non-binding status. The Urban Agenda can thus be understood as another example of the move towards soft European spatial planning and urban development. This article investigates the notion of partnership as a soft planning and governance tool within the Urban Agenda. Moreover, based on expert interviews, it presents early opinions and expectations of actors involved in the development of the Urban Agenda and the partnerships on affordable housing.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-105
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • European spatial planning, European Union, governance, housing partnership, urban development, urban planning

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