Friday, 24 June 2016 10:40

Brexit - Why and what next?

Why has Brexit happened and what happens next?

The pressure for migration into Europe will not go away, says a new report.

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The ESPON programme gets going again with a seminar in Luxembourg in December focusing on refugee migration.

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How has the economic crisis impacted on migration patterns across Europe? This question is addressed in a new four-page ESPON Evidence Brief. The theme was also a central feature of the ESPON seminar in Vilnius on 4-5 December. Migration has been a priority concern of the Lithuanian EU Presidency. This is not surprising, given the scale on which this small country has been haemorrhaging people in recent years. It is estimated that a sixth of the population has been lost over the last 20 years. However, as we in the UK know,  migration has become a hot political topic in many countries. For example there are concerns in countries around the Mediterranean about their “front line” position in relation to illegal immigration from Africa and the Middle East.

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My previous visits to Riga were in the winter. Fading light on gloomy afternoons, sleet and snow chilling the soul, forcing me to seek the refuge of a warm bar or café. Now I am here in vibrant springtime, with a crescent moon in a crimson night sky after a day of warm sun. Suddenly, light green leaves have burst the grip of the long, bare winter. There is a promise of better days ahead: this great European city looks to the future with new confidence.

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What kind of regional development actions might boost competitiveness and growth through forging new links with states around the borders of the European Union (EU)? This is the question that will be the focus of a meeting in Cyprus that I am participating in this week. The EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy dates from 2004. Its objective is to avoid “the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and our neighbours and instead strengthen the prosperity, stability and security of all.” What are the pressures and opportunities and how might a place-based approach help?

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What are the issues that planners across the globe are grappling with? This week I attended a meeting in London of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP). Representatives from Africa, the Caribbean and Americas, Asia, Australasia and the Pacific, and Europe gave fascinating presentations. In the space of an hour we were given a kaleidoscope of planners’ work and concerns – from post-earthquake Christchurch to crime and sprawl in Caribbean islands, from the “jobs and growth” agenda in Europe to the forced removal of people to make way for major infrastructure projects in dynamic African countries. Where does planning go from here?

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The authorities in Rome this week demolished the Ponte Mammolo informal settlement where some people have lived permanently for well over a decade. Claims that residents were given advanced notice of the arrival of the bulldozsrs are disputed. The migrations from North Africa into Italy have seen some 200 new and transient people living on a parking lot for tourist buses in front of the main settlement, as they make their way north in search of jobs.

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The brutal murder of Emmanuel Sithole in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra is a frightening sign of the potential for ethnic divisions to destroy social cohesion and economic growth. It undermines the moral leadership that South Africa has been able to exercise since the end of apartheid. It is part of a pattern of Afrophobia and hatred directed at migrants from other parts of Africa.

A chilling article connects the violence on the township streets to attitudes in corporate boardrooms and failures of political leadership. With Africa such a key market for South African companies, the reaction of consumers across the continent is likely to result in economic damage. As always in cities, everything affects everythng else and actions have impacts far beyond administrative boundaries.

 

 

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This blog was first posted on the Planning Resource website on 24 June 2011.

Should shrinking regions be abandoned? This was a key question raised during the final day of the ESPON Open Seminar in Hungary (the opening day is covered in my previous blog this week). It is clear that many European regions face a difficult future in which their population is aging and people are moving out, especially young women. Should such regions be sustained by public investment – or left to gently fade away, as key services are withdrawn, infrastructure is not maintained and only those prepared to live in such conditions are left?

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