Abstract:When preparing the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), Member States were supported by the European Commission but denied the EU a competence in the matter. Currently, the Treaty of Lisbon identifies territorial cohesion as a competence shared between the Union and the Member States. This paper is about the process architecture of territorial cohesion policy. In the past, this architecture resembled the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) which the White Paper on European Governance praised, but only in areas where there was no EU competence. This reflected zero-sum thinking which may continue even under the Lisbon Treaty. After all, for as long as territorial cohesion was not a competence, voluntary cooperation as practiced in the ESDP process was pursued in this way. However, the practice of EU policies, even in areas where there is an EU competence, often exhibits features of the OMC. Surprisingly effective innovations hold the promise of rendering institutions of decision making comprehensible and democratically accountable. In the EU as a functioning polity decision making is thus at least part deliberative so that actors’ preferences are transformed by the force of the better argument. This brings into focus the socialisation of the deliberators into epistemic communities. Largely an informal process, this is reminiscent of European spatial planning having been characterised as a learning process.