Visions for spatial development in Germany
A political forum for fundamental questions: the Standing Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning (MKRO)
The Standing Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning deals with fundamental questions of spatial and federal state planning. It takes decisions and makes recommendations on important topics. The Ministers, Senators and Heads of the State Chancelleries who are responsible for spatial planning issues at federal state and Federal Government level are equal members of the Conference. The political positions that are discussed in this body are of great political importance.
The work of the Conference is supported by its Standing Committee which consists of the responsible Directors-General of the spatial planning authorities of the Federal Government and the federal states. In addition, there are working committees at division level.
Four strategic visions
In 2016, the Standing Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning adopted four strategic visions with regard to spatial development in Germany: “enhance competitiveness”, “ensure the provision of public services”, “control and sustainably develop land use” as well as “shape climate change and the transformation of the energy system”. The intention is to do justice to the principle of sustainability and spatial cohesion at the same time. The new vision of “shape climate change and the transformation of the energy system”, in particular, strengthens spatial planning as a cross-sectoral policy at Federal Government and federal state level.
Visions provide basic guidance
The visions are primarily aimed at decision-makers at Federal Government and federal state level, but addressees also include regional planning authorities, local authorities and local authority associations. These addressees are to implement the strategies and approaches for action from the visions in practice. However, the visions are also aimed at decision-makers in the fields of transport, environment, energy and economy who are responsible for implementing spatial planning objectives. In addition, they provide guidance to the private sector in terms of the taking of future investment decisions.
European spatial development
The Standing Conference of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning also deals with European issues. European spatial development policy promotes the territorial cohesion, which is an important dimension of European regional policy, and the cooperation with the EU states in terms of spatial planning for land and sea areas.
Two examples: in matters of flood control, cooperation between neighbouring countries on the rivers Elbe, Odra and Rhine is indispensable for Germany. However, as a result of open borders, there is a growing number of people who live in one EU state and work in another. Their needs are taken into consideration in the cross-border cooperation on spatial planning.
With regard to coordination efforts that transcend national borders, two things happen at the level of the European Union:
- The Member States agree on joint principles of spatial development policy. The basic document for this is the "Territorial Agenda of the EU".
- The EU funds programmes which promote cooperation between regions (INTERREG programmes).
- The Alpine Convention is a binding framework convention under international law which aims at protecting the natural habitat of the Alps.