The starting point for the survey about the state of national spatial planning in selected European countries is the hypothesis that at this moment European spatial planning is undergoing a change, and that this change, amongst other things, is manifested in a shifting of the balance of power between national, regional and local planning. The survey is based on an analysis of the respective national spatial planning systems in selected European countries as well as on interviews by experts with stakeholders with differing viewpoints in national planning. The chosen approach was for the survey of a guideline supported interview by experts. The representation of the results of the state of national spatial planning was not in the foreground, but the necessarily subjectively characterised synopsis; an «institutionalised competence for the construction of reality». [Ronald Hitzler; Anne Honer; Christoph Maeder, (1994) (editor.): Expertenwissen, Westdeutscher Verlag Opladen.]
The concluding hypothesis of an alteration of national European spatial planning and a transfer of the balance of power between the three planning levels have been confirmed with the survey. This has become apparent, for example, via the discussions and respectively a re-zoning of local and regional territory in Denmark (creating larger units) and Slovenia (discussions about smaller units). On the regional level, this alteration means a shift of tasks away from area planning to an increasing responsibility for regional economic development. From local land usage to how to influence of the patterns of use. With this, the emphasis moves from controlling land use towards influencing economic processes. For this reason in European terminology the term spatial development is increasingly being replaced by territorial development. Territorial development props itself up on an understanding of planning that manifests itself in the territorial agenda and the Leipzig Charter. It comprises of spatial development and economic development at the same time and equally as important. By this the economy itself is defined as a basis of development.
Insight orientated instruments, such as benchmarking or monitoring, are increasing in importance through the strengthened procedural orientation. As well as this, process orientated instruments like moderation or governance is becoming more important.