76 best practices to boost metropolitan cooperation and governance across Central Europe

Date: 16.05.2024
The project MECOG-CE provides an in-depth expert analysis of metropolitan governance systems, illustrating various national approaches and best practices from partners’ metropolitan areas and outside partners’ regions. The studies identified and described a total of 76 best practices and tools aimed at strengthening metropolitan cooperation and governance. These exceptional findings serve as a valuable resource for information, inspiration, and the sharing of experiences both within and beyond the project scope.

The project outcomes “Report on metropolitan governance systems and existing tools/best practices at partner MAs for enhancing metropolitan cooperation” and “Analysis of best practice outside partners’ regions” were created by the WP 1 co-leader University of Silesia in Katowice with the contribution of metropolitan project partners (City of Brno, City of Ostrava, City of Warsaw, GZM Metropolis, Stuttgart Region Association, Joint Spatial Planning Department Berlin Brandenburg, Metropolitan City of Turin) and metropolitan expert organizations  (Metropolitan Research Institute, METREX and Eurocities).

Metropolitan governance systems and their domains of intervention 

The first study discusses MECOG-CE project partners’ metropolitan governance systems, emphasizing the diversity of metropolitan structures in terms of assigned tasks or strength of metropolitan cooperation and the need to learn from one another’s experience. The metropolitan areas and their governance structures focus mainly on three key metropolitan domains: metropolitan mobility systems, spatial planning, and regional development, while recognizing the importance of other fields of action. Differences in forms of metropolitan engagement in the domains are influenced by the varying forms of institutionalization across the metropolitan areas.

Metropolitan empowerment as a part of the national political agenda

In the analysis of partner metropolitan areas, the level of metropolitan and municipal empowerment are examined. Despite the significant importance of metropolitan areas as key centers of growth and places of concentration of diverse resources, metropolitan areas in Central Europe (CE) are often less empowered than their municipalities, lacking formal presence in state or central government bodies. Italian and German metropolitan areas present a higher level of empowerment with significant competencies, while MAs in Poland and Czechia struggle to be recognized, as well as lack adequate political and institutional frameworks, except for the GZM metropolitan area in Poland, which functions based on a specially dedicated law.

Best practices and tools for strengthening metropolitan cooperation and governance 

The first study thoroughly described 47 best practices and tools successfully utilized by the partner metropolitan areas. Additionally, the second study analyzed 29 best tools and practices outside the CE region. In overall, the project consortium identified and described 76 diverse best practices and tools aimed at strengthening metropolitan cooperation and governance. Such an extensive perspective not only enriches the studies but also facilitates an exchange of experiences and ideas across different European regions.

Thematic spectrum of identified best practices and tools  

The study identified 14 main thematic domains in which best tools and practices were implemented. The most prevalent domains addressed were transport/mobility, education, regional development, and management of metropolitan areas.

Regarding challenges and opportunities identified by the MECOG-CE consortium partners, the practices refer to three fundamental pillars of sustainable development – environmental, social and economic. The practices emphasize the environmental dimension, particularly sustainable mobility and transport, climate change and promotion of green transition. Essentially, having these three pillars balanced allows for the real improvement of the quality of life of the metropolitan inhabitants.

Innovative or added value of best tools and practices    

The studies also shed light on various types of innovations, including technological, organizational, social, and cross-cutting. Cross-cutting innovations, which integrate multiple areas or resources in creative ways, and organizational innovations, were the most numerous examples, representing the majority of 47 best practices.

While practices may not always feature highly innovative core ideas, their success often relies on the combination of various resources and unique approaches tailored to their specific contexts. Moreover, the most important determinant of various types of innovation lies in cooperation. As reported by the MECOG-CE partners, regardless of the type of innovation, the exchange of knowledge, enhancement of mutual trust, and improvement of cooperation among stakeholders consistently emerged as significant advantages and added value across various practices.

Potential of transferability of best tools and practices  

The studies gathered the majority of aspects relevant in assessing the potential for transferability of selected best practices. Transferability potential assessment includes elements, such as a context-specific character, place-specific character of a practice, transferable core ideas, precisely defined needs and objectives of an MA, involvement of stakeholders, metropolitan impact, and many others. Moreover, it is necessary to understand and consider the unique national context for the effective transfer of best practices across countries. Overall, while there’s great interest for sharing best practices, a more critical evaluation of transferability potential is needed, focusing on strengthening metropolitan cooperation and governance.

Process- and project-orientation of best tools and practices 

In terms of transferability potential, the first study on partner metropolitan areas introduces two additional categories within the typology of best tools/practices. These categories focus on their alignment with either project-based or process-oriented approaches. More than half of gathered initiatives were project-based, specifically 28. Among them, the most frequently indicated were those in the field of education and transport. The potential for transferability of these practices was estimated by the partners as high. The process-oriented practices were less frequent, namely 19, but partners evaluated their transferability potential as high as well. These practices focus on regional development and metropolitan area management. The potential transfer of such practices often relates to methodology or conceptual frameworks rather than specific solutions.

Accessible resources and further information  

In the following weeks, the more thorough conclusions of these analyses will be introduced in separate articles, so stay tuned! For those interested in delving deeper into the specifics of these tools and practices in the following weeks, the more detailed articles will be published on the project website and LinkedIn profile. Right now, the report on metropolitan governance systems is available on the project’s website. The executive summary of the governance systems and best practices in each metropolitan area can be found on the project’s website and under the QR code below this article as well. Additionally, a storymap featuring these governance systems and 17 selected best practices for further examination provides an interactive way to explore successful examples of metropolitan cooperation and governance.

In conclusion, the MECOG-CE project’s findings represent a significant step forward in enhancing metropolitan cooperation and governance. The diverse range of tools and practices identified not only serves as a resource for current development of metropolitan areas, but also as a blueprint for future urban planning and development strategies in Central Europe and beyond.

The documents were elaborated within the project MECOG-CE: Strengthening metropolitan cooperation and governance in Central Europe and is part of the WP1: Analysis of metropolitan dimension, Activity 1.2. Analysis of existing tools/best practices for enhancing metropolitan cooperation.

Authors: Robert Pyka, Krzysztof Bierwiaczonek, Zuzanna Neuve-Église, Małgorzata Suchacka,

University of Silesia in Katowice, Faculty of Social Sciences,

Institute of Sociology, Observatory on Urban and Metropolitan Processes.