Open Access BASE2020

Variegated Europeanization and urban policy: Dynamics of policy transfer in France, Italy, Spain and the UK


This paper explores the dynamics of urban policy transfer in the European Union (EU), critically examining the process of Europeanization in relation to urban issues. The paper takes a comparative approach, analysing the evolution of urban policy and Europeanization in four member states: France, Italy, Spain and the UK from the 1990s up to the current Cohesion Policy period (2014–2020). Using an analytical framework based on three dimensions of Europeanization (direction, object and impact), we examine the extent to which urban policies are moving towards an integrated approach to sustainable urban development, as supported by the EU. The paper highlights the contradictions between processes of convergence through Europeanization, and path-dependent systems and trajectories that forge alternative paths. In doing so, it advances wider debates on the impact of Europeanization in a neo-liberal context by arguing that member states more likely to be affected by Europeanization are those most impacted by national austerity measures. A process of 'variegated Europeanization' is proposed to capture the differential practices taking place within the EU with regard to the circulation of the EU's approach to urban policy.