Thesis title: Towards a ‘Europe of Flows’? Discourse, power and space in the development of a transnational high-speed rail line in the European Union
Primary supervisor: Professor Nick Phelps
Secondary supervisor: Dr Claire Colomb
Sponsor: Fundación Pedro Barrié de la Maza
Starting date: September 2009
Completion date: August 2015
The European project has had since its first years the ambition to create a single European space where the flow of goods and people is unconstrained, an idea strongly related to the development of the EU Single Market.
Although it has been argued that a discourse on the creation of this ‘Europe of Flows’ has become dominant in policy development, the spatial conflicts that this type of infrastructure involves and the wide array of political actors concerned cast doubts on the smooth development of such a space.
This research project sought to shed light on this issue by adopting a critical approach that considers policy problems as socially constructed, seeks to reveal power struggles in policy-making, and places space at the centre of the study of politics.
Accordingly, an analytical framework that combines discourse analysis, social and political theories of power and a spatially-nuanced approach informed by human geography debates on scale and relationality was applied to the case of a cross-border and EU-relevant high-speed rail line in the Spanish region of the Basque Country. The findings reveal the struggles for discursive hegemony and effective influence that transnational infrastructure politics may involve, and illustrate the nature and challenges of the European integration process.
I graduated in 2005 in Architecture, with an specialism in Urbanism (University of A Coruña, Spain). After working as a planning officer for a Spanish consultancy firm, where I contributed to the development of spatial plans on scales ranging from urban design to regional planning, I gained an MSc in International Planning in 2008 (University College London).
My interest in the implications of European integration in spatial planning and policy led me to investigate the influence of the European policy idea of polycentric development on a British strategic spatial planning exercise in my MSc dissertation, and to subsequently work at the Joint Technical Secretariat of INTERREG IVB North-West Europe, a territorial cooperation programme financed by the European Union. I contributed there to the development and monitoring of transnational projects under the areas of innovation, natural resource and risk management, connectivity and economic and social cohesion.
In 2009, sponsored by the Fundación Pedro Barrié de la Maza, I started my PhD at the Bartlett School of Planning on the politics of transnational transport infrastructure development in the European Union.