A Europe of multiple flows: Contested discursive integration in trans-European transport infrastructure policy-making

Author (Person)
Series Title
Series Details Vol.24, No.4, October 2017, p425–441
Publication Date October 2017
ISSN 0969-7764
Content Type


This paper presents an examination of the extent to which discursive integration is accompanying the European integration process, by focusing on the development of trans-European transport infrastructure networks. Because they facilitate movement across nation-state borders, these networks are central to European integration and have in fact constituted a key EU policy issue for more than two decades.

Some authors have argued that their development has been driven by a hegemonic discourse that promotes the production of a ‘Europe of Flows’: a single, uniform space underpinned by a vision of ‘frictionless’ mobility through inter-city networks. However, the existence of such a discourse is questionable given the variety of rationales that may potentially influence the development of this type of infrastructure. Their claim is evaluated by means of an in-depth empirical study of the policy process surrounding a high-speed rail line of EU relevance in the Spanish region of the Basque Country.

The analysis of the discursive constructions mobilized in this process indicates that the discourse on a ‘Europe of Flows’ is better conceptualized as one of the several storylines associated with different scales through which a wider hegemonic discourse is articulated. Whilst the heterogeneity of this discourse did not fundamentally contradict the development of a trans-European high-speed rail line, it did result in a policy compromise according to the influence the different coalitions were able to exert in the policy process. The analysis largely demonstrates the importance of considering the multi-scalar discursive landscape of policy-making in order to understand trans-European infrastructure development.

Source Link http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0969776416663809
Subject Categories
Countries / Regions