ABSTRACT

Aided and indeed necessitated by open borders, converging policy-making, and a realization that spatial challenges do not stop at national borders, cross-border and transnational spatial planning have become common currency across the European Union territory. This evolution has been accompanied by an emerging European discourse on spatial development policy that aims to support the creation of a more integrated and cohesive EU territory and revolves around issues that pertain to the organization, development, and planning of the European continent through pro-active planning policies and strategic visioning. Therefore it should come as little surprise that the history and institutionalization of this European discourse have attracted considerable academic interest in the field of spatial planning. However, and particularly from the viewpoint of countries located on the external border of the European Union, the generally inwardlooking nature of this European spatial planning discourse is problematic in that it mostly neglects the external dimensions of European territorial integration and its interrelationship with the wider European neighbourhood (for some exceptions, see ESPON 2007; Beckouche and Grasland 2008). From a Finnish viewpoint – one that is aware of the country’s location at the northeastern edge of the European Union territory and its 1,300 km-long border with the Russian Federation – the importance of spatial interdependencies between Northwest Russia and Finland in terms of transport, economic exchange, and tourism should not be underestimated; after all, this region includes the metropolitan area of St Petersburg. Before 1917, Finland’s economy and, consequently, its spatial structure were closely linked to the development of adjacent areas in Russia, notably the St Petersburg metropolitan area, which served as a major export market and a source of investment capital for some of eastern Finland’s industries (Katajala 1999; Eskelinen and Fritsch 2006). However, as a result of the October Revolution and Finland’s subsequent independence, spatial interdependencies between Finland and Russia were no longer important because of a virtually closed border. Interaction and co-operation after the Second World War was mainly orchestrated at the national level by Helsinki and Moscow, a situation that did not allow for any direct interregional contacts across the border. Under a highly restrictive border regime, spatial interaction was limited by and channelled through a small number of border crossings.