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ECTP CEU_thumbFounded in 1985, ECTP-CEU (European Council of Spatial Planners-Conseil européen des urbanistes) brings together 25 professional town planning associations and institutes from 23 European countries as well as corresponding members. It is an umbrella association providing its members with a common framework for planning practice, planning education, continuing professional development and the definition of professional responsibilities. 

ECTP-CEU sets standards of education and conduct for the planning profession; identifies, celebrates and rewards examples of good planning all over Europe, and engages in dialogue with local, regional, national and European government.  Planners are enablers and specialists in spatial analysis and interaction, committed to working with other professionals across disciplinary boundaries to advance the sustainable development of the both the natural and the built environment. 

The organisation is composed of Full Members, Corresponding Members and Observer Members. Full membership of ECTP-CEU is open to Institutes and Associations of spatial planners established in countries represented in the Council of Europe which meet the criteria for membership in line with the ECTP-CEU ‘International Agreement and Declaration’ defining the scope of planning.

Corresponding Membership is open to Institutes and Associations dealing with spatial planning in European countries which do not meet the criteria for full membership, and also to Institutes and Associations of other professions which show an interest in spatial planning and to societies, collective bodies, administrative bodies, and universities and research institutions active in the field of spatial planning. 

Current Work
Events which promote and enhance European planning such as:

  • The European Urban and Regional Planning Awards which have taken place every two years since the early 1990s. Since 2010, these Awards have the support of the Committee of the Regions. The ninth series will take place in 2012;
  • The  European Biennial of Towns and Town Planners: the 9th Biennial took place in Genoa from 14th to 17th September 2011;
  • Les Journées Mondiales de l’Urbanisme (World Town Planning Days) with the Société Française des Urbanistes, taking place as part of the centenary celebration of SFU from 3rd to 5th November 2011;
  • Support for the annual global World Town Planning Day on-line conference, to be held this year on 1st and 2nd November on the theme of ‘Going Public’
  • An award for ‘European Planner’ is under consideration.

Activities which promote dialogue and collaboration with European institutions, such as:

  • The Committee of the Regions. CoR supports the European Urban and Regional Planning Awards: the Awards ceremony takes place in the headquarters of the Committee, and it appoints one member of the international Jury. ECTP-CEU made a contribution to the Toledo Declaration on integrated regeneration issued by the Committee of the Regions in June 2010; 
  • The Council of Europe and CEMAT (the Conference of Ministers of Spatial/Regional  Planning): ECTP-CEU follows and contributes to its work and has undertaken to translate the CEMAT glossary into several European languages;
  • The EU Network of Territorial Cohesion Contact Points and Urban Development Group: ECTP-CEU follows and contributes to their work;
  • ECTP-CEU supports European Heritage Alliance 3.3 with Europa Nostra, ICOMOS and other heritage institutions;
  • ECTP-CEU works closely with the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) and has jointly carried out research with AESOP into the education and training of professional planners in Europe.

Activities to promote dialogue and enhance links with other planning institutions:

ECTP-CEU works on a wide range of subjects with institutions related to planning including UN–HABITAT, the International Federation for Housing and Planning, the International Society of City and Regional Planners, the European Federation for Landscape Architecture, the International Commission on Monuments and Sites, the International  Urban Development Association, the Inter-American Federation of Planners, the Global Planners Network and Europa Nostra. This work includes:

  • Long-term projects agreed at the historic first meeting of Europe-based planners hosted by the president of ECTP-CEU and involving AESOP, IFHP, ISOCARP, EFLA, INTA and ICOMOS include work on A Century of Great Spatial Planning Achievements and Declaration of a Decade of Spatial Planning. The aim of A Century of Great Spatial Planning Achievements is to select and publicise the 10 most important spatial planning documents and initiatives in Europe in each of eleven decades from 1900 and 2010. This definition includes books, legislation, reports, papers, plans, solutions, congresses, exhibitions and speeches but excludes the foundation of institutions and organizations, the launch of journals and the foundation of planning courses;
  • Expert advice missions with UN–HABITAT;
  • The Lisbon Summer Course with AESOP, IFHP and ISOCARP;
  • A common agenda for congresses, meetings and seminars.

Support for the creation of other planning institutions such as the Global Planners Network (GPN) and the Ibero-American Planners Federation (FIU):

  • ECTP-CEU was an early signatory of the Vancouver Declaration of the role and function of planning, which led to the creation of GPN. The Global Planners Network seeks to find ways through which planning organisations and associations and their members can work together on a bilateral and multilateral basis to develop and communicate knowledge and expertise and thereby build capacity for effective planning throughout the world.;
  • The Federation of Ibero-American Urban Planners was established in Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands) at the 14th Ibero-American Congress of Planning with the support of local authorities, AETU (Spain), AUP (Portugal) and ECTP-CEU. FIU brings together associations of city and spatial professionals from 21 countries from Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. The objective of the Federation is to encourage the relationship between town and spatial planners from Latin America and Europe on the principles of the right to the city and a decent habitat; democratic participation, sustainability and cultural diversity; bridging the urban divide, reduction of poverty, exclusion and spatial segregation. 

Taking forward work to facilitate the free movement of planners: An ECTP- CEU working group on the recognition of spatial qualification in Europe is working with AESOP and EFLA towards recognition of professional qualifications and education, maintaining and developing negotiations with DG Internal Market to obtain recognition for planning as a profession and continuing work to establish a common basis for professional practice through the Education Task Force and other forums.  

Enlarging the base of ECTP-CEU membership so that the full members (associations of planners) are now joined by corresponding members: planning lawyers, planning engineers, planning landscape architects, young planners and cities, ministries, and international organizations.  

Promoting and discussing important and innovative subjects such as publishing books and reports and holding discussions at General Assemblies and in working groups, including recognition of spatial qualification in Europe; Climate Change; Territorial Cohesion, and Revision of the New Charter of Athens. 

Dissemination of the revised New Charter of Athens 2003: the ‘European Council of Town Planners’ Vision for Cities in the 21st Century’ is now available in several European languages and a review of the Charter is in progress to ensure that it remains fresh and relevant to the emerging challenges facing planning in Europe.

Increasing involvement of ECTP-CEU members, expanding activities and exchanges of information and knowledge via the new website and the new newsletter. 

Promoting the European Register of Experts: ECTP-CEU offers a unique service – a Register of Experts from across Europe specifically on planning issues. We offer access to the people with specialist expertise in meeting planning and environment challenges throughout Europe. 

The Founding Charter
The Liaison Committee for Town Planners in the EEC was founded in 1978 to advocate professional recognition of planners at European level with the aim of furthering the free movement and the right of establishment of the profession in all Member States. The first President of the Liaison Committee was Charles Delfante, followed by Willem Schut (1980-81) and Hugh Crawford (1982-83).

The Committee became an International Association with a Scientific Purpose under Belgian law in 1979. The European Commission decided not to draft a Directive specifically regulating the town planning profession at the EC level, and the Liaison Committee decided to establish common rules for the profession between the national institutes and associations of Town Planners in all Member States of the EC. In November 1985, under the Presidency of Guus Franken, the national associations of town planners which had been members of the Liaison Committee for Town Planners signed an International Agreement and Declaration in Amsterdam, which is the founding charter of ECTP-CEU. 

In this Charter, ECTP-CEU member associations and institutes have laid down the basis for establishing common rules for the planning profession by specifying the field and nature of the professional town planner’s activities; educational and training criteria; and professional and conduct requirements. 

  • The nature and the fields of activity for the town planning profession which are common to all member countries of the European Union are defined in Annex A of the Charter.
  • A minimum common core for education and training needed for the planning profession is defined in Annex B of the Charter. This is a preliminary step towards the harmonization of national requirements regarding the education, training and professional conduct of town planners with the view to achieve, in due course, mutual recognition of membership requirements and qualifications among EU Member States.
  • A professional code of ethics establishing criteria of professional competence and conduct which will be observed by all member town planners of national associations and institutes in the European Council of Town Planners is defined in Annex C of the Charter.

ECTP-CEU Looking to the Future  

  1. Young Planners Network across Europe

ECTP-CEU offers young planners the opportunity to create a network and prepare the future of spatial planning in Europe, drawing on its policy work on territorial cohesion and its economic, social and environmental dimensions. It is of particular importance in this time of profound change to develop professional capacity and improve governance for the common good. A first workshop will be held in 2011 and reported in 2012 at the Spring General Assembly in Barcelona.  

  1. Spatial Planning using new tools: GIS and 3-dimensional analysis and projections for spatial planning.

ECTP-CEU will co-chair the Imagina forum organized by the Principauté de Monaco in February 2011. It will be an opportunity to present the latest techniques and research and includes participation of FNAU, SRL and the University of Lisbon. 

  1. European Spatial Planners professional card

We are considering developing a professional card for European spatial planners (similar to the Europass operated by other professions) to facilitate the free movement of planners across Europe. 

  1. Exhibition on the first century of spatial planners

Following the French celebration of 100 years of spatial Planners in 2011, the exhibition in partnership with European cities and regions will tour Europe as a way to develop public interest in spatial planning.

  1. Global Planners Network

As a member of GPN, ECTP-CEU supports efforts to build planning capacity in many countries around the world. ECTP-CEU supports the proposal from its UK member, RTPI, to create a web portal for planners to share experience, and it also hopes to offer a session at the 2012 GPN Congress in Los Angeles to share European experience in improving the quality of life in towns and cities by developing indicators of good governance.  


João Teixeira is ECTP-CEU President


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