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The Development of Cities and Municipalities in Central and Eastern Europe: Introduction for a Special Issue of 'Urban Research and Practice'
Urban Research & Practice, Vol. 7 (3),
Since the 1990s, local governments in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries have been confronted by completely new structures and developments. This came after more than 40 years (or even longer in the case of the former Soviet Union) under a socialist regime and behind an iron curtain which isolated them from the non-socialist world. A lack of resources had led to an underinvestment in the refurbishment of older buildings, while relatively cheap ‘prefabricated’ housing had been built, not only in the outskirts of cities, but also within city centres. A lack of resources had also resulted in the fact that the socialist regimes were generally unable to replace old buildings with ‘modern’ ones; hence, there is a very rich heritage of historical monuments in many of these cities today. The centrally planned economies and the development of urban structures (including the shifts of population between cities and regions) were determined by ideology, political rationality and the integration of all CEE countries into the production schemes of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and its division of labour by location. The sudden introduction of a market economy, private property, democratic rules, local autonomy for cities and municipalities and access to the global economy and society may be seen as a kind of ‘natural experiment’. How would these new conditions shape the national systems of cities and municipalities? Which cities would shrink and which would grow? How would the relationship between core cities and their surrounding municipalities develop? And what would happen within these cities and with their built environment?
Re-Municipalizing instead of Privatization: The Right Answer to Changing Conditions?
For explaining why local governments in Germany are presently thinking about re-municipalizing some services which had initially been privatized, a couple of years ago, several changing factors, in combination with given constraints at the local level (like the well-known deficiencies of the local revenue system), could be identified. But a closer look at the changing determinants makes clear that there are other – and often better – options to react than just re-municipalizing.
Transport Costs and Urban Systems
Forschungs- und Sitzungsberichte der ARL, Bd. 238,
The average costs of transporting goods in a national economy are one of thefactors that significantly contribute towards the shaping of the urban system. This paper pursues the question of what effect changes in transport costs (this can include a reduction as well as an increase) can have on the urban system. Various models based on the fundamental assumptions of New Economic Geography are applied The specific assumptions of these models are compared with one another and their results contrasted It is demonstrated that the modelling results, which in some cases are based upon very restrictive assumptions, appear to contradict one another in terms oftheirfindings, or, alternatively, that thefindings of these models should only be interpreted with regard to the specific questions that each pose. These include suburbanisation tendencies, the opening up of peripheral regions, and the concentration of company headquarters.