Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Programme funding

EUR 80 million
To explore and implement innovatory avenues and thinking in urban policy and planning in order to contribute towards sustainable economic and social cohesion.


Under Article 10 of the Regulation governing the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (2083/93 Official Journal No L 193 of 31.7.1993), the ERDF provides support for innovative actions in regional development through a number of pilot schemes. These innovative measures aim at developing new ways of introducing innovation and technology transfer in the regional agenda through demonstration projects.

For the period 1995-1999, Article 10 actions are conducted within the framework of three programmes: Interregional Cooperation and Regional Economic Innovation; Actions in Spatial Planning; and Urban Pilot Actions. These translate into eight priority areas for pilot schemes of which the present programme "Urban pilot projects" is one. The other priority areas concern:

- Internal inter-regional cooperation;
- External inter-regional cooperation;
- Cooperation in the Information Society;
- Cooperation in innovation and technology transfer;
- Cooperation in new sources of jobs;
- Cooperation with a cultural theme;
- Pilot projects in spatial planning.

During the period 1989-1993, some 32 urban pilot projects, designed to provide innovative approaches to urban problems, were supported under Article 10 of the ERDF. The projects focused on four main areas:

- Economic development of areas with social problems;
- Measures to improve the environment for economic purposes;
- Revitalization of historical centres;
- Exploitation of the technological advantage of cities.

The positive impact of these measures prompted the Commission to launch the URBAN Community Initiative in 1994. This aims "to tackle the problems of high-risk neighbourhoods through an innovative and integrated approach resulting in actions which can be diffused in cities across the European Union".

The new urban pilot projects to be supported under Article 10 during the period 1995-1999 will reinforce the measures carried out under the URBAN initiative. Focused on detecting and experimenting with new innovative ideas for addressing urban problems at local level, the projects are designed to encourage local authorities to extend their field of action, to take advantage of existing possibilities, to develop new areas of action and financing mechanisms and to explore a more integrated approach to problems.

The projects are expected to form part of a global, sustainable, urban development strategy which brings together the following characteristics:

- The capacity to tackle problems common to different towns facing similar problems;
- Innovatory and demonstrative solutions;
- Partnership between public and private sector agents facilitating the actions leading to self-financing in the medium-term.


Project themes may include:

- Improvement of urban planning of peripheral neighbourhoods in medium-to-large cities which have developed in an unplanned way;

- Exploitation of cultural, geographical, historical or other advantages of medium-sized cities;

- Regeneration of historic centres or deprived areas and launching of new economic activities, or strengthening existing ones (in particular SMEs - such as neighbourhood shops and craft enterprises etc.) in combination with vocational training, rehabilitation, environmental actions or safety improvements;

- Tackling functional obsolescence in urban zones by introducing new uses which will provide needed urban/civic infrastructures, services or new economic activities;

- Promotion of social/economic integration of minority groups and equal opportunity measures, in particular through the establishment of partnerships and citizen's participation;

- Improvement of the environment through the creation of new open/green spaces and/or recreational activities together with sustainable facilities in built-up districts (this also includes integrated waste treatment and recycling activities and measures designed to promote the reduction of energy consumption through renewable or clean alternative energy uses);

- Good practice for preserving buildings of architectural and social interest in regions with geographical disadvantages (e.g. areas at risk from earthquakes, mountainous regions, etc.);

- Integrated management of public transit/parking network and development of strategies enhancing accessibility of isolated economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods to labour markets;

- Use of information technology for improved functioning and economic development in cities;

- Tackling institutional/legal issues necessary for the realization of innovatory schemes.


Urban pilot projects (UPP) are implemented by DG XVI of the European Commission within the framework of Article 10 of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Regulation.

The UUP programme is implemented by calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Any urban, local or regional authority in the Community may participate in the programme provided it represents cities or urban conurbations with a population of over 100,000 inhabitants. Smaller towns could also be accepted, provided they have a marked urban economy and social structure, play a central role within a region, or are adjacent "peri-urban" conurbations of large cities. Proposals concerning actions involving more than one local authority are acceptable when such cooperation provides added value.

Urban pilot projects are jointly financed by the European Community and the authorities concerned. In general, the Community contribution to projects is in the range of ECU 2 to 3 million. Community funding of projects will be subject to a maximum of 75% of total costs incurred by authorities in Objective 1 regions, and up to 50% of those incurred by authorities in all other regions. Where there is private sector participation in projects or where revenue will be generated to the benefit of the implementing body, levels of Community funding may be less than the abovementioned limits.

Selected projects are expected to commence during the course of 1996 and are estimated to last between 2 and 3 years.

The programme places a great emphasis on the exploitation and dissemination of the know-how generated from completed and on-going pilot projects supported under both Article 10 of the ERDF and under the URBAN initiative. This is to be achieved in particular by the establishment of a number of inter-city networks which take account of the type of project, the areas targeted and the reasons for belonging to a particular type of network. Once each network has been established, it should be open to the participation of other European cities even if they have not received financial assistance from the Community.
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