, Volume 51, Issue 1–2, pp 83–97 | Cite as

Choosing a site for the capital of Europe

  • Carola Hein


The European Union has achieved internal cohesion and international economic recognition, but economics alone has not yet led to a united Europe. Although this cohesiveness strongly influence regions and cities, and cities have started to refer to their European background, the member nations continue to hold regional and urban planning power. Forced to take unanimous decisions, the European Council of Ministers maintained the doctrine of a unique capital for 40 years, provoking numerous urban and architectural visions while simultaneously accepting the existence of three provisional headquarters, Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. The host nations, Belgium, France and Luxembourg meanwhile oriented these cities to both European economic considerations and local needs.

This article analyzes the logic that led to decentralization of the capital city functions, the reasons why cities were interested in hosting the European Communities, what individual cities and nations suggested and why the most obvious solutions were not adopted. The Maastricht Treaty, the ongoing strengthening of European and regional institutions, and the choice of the provisional headquarters as definite capitals in 1992 gives cause for hope that concepts based on European and regional necessities beyond the nation-state will now be elaborated. A European network of cities and regions including the three political capitals of Europe, as revealed by their infrastructures and buildings, seems to be the best expression of the meaning of European unity.

European Union European integration capital cities visionary planning networking Brussels Strasbourg Luxembourg 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carola Hein
    • 1
  1. 1.Growth and Structure of Cities ProgramBryn Mawr CollegeBryn MawrU.S.A.

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