The European Commission, DG XVII, has published an invitation to submit proposals for activities on regional and urban energy management in the European Union. The main objectives of the Community's activities on regional and urban energy management are to improve energy efficiency, to make the most of local energy resources and to seek optimum energy supply conditions for regions and urban areas, thereby contributing to their sustainable development (in economic, social and environmental terms) in a context in keeping with the general objectives of Union policy. This involves, first and foremost, enabling or improving the ability of local decision-makers to take the appropriate decisions. This action acts as a catalyst and provides an impetus for other activities, while providing for subsidiarity both by being aimed at regions, towns or cities, the levels closest to the citizen, and because of the emphasis it places on cooperation at Community level. It is also intended to complement other Community programmes, in particular those concerning energy, and to serve as an example in regions or towns and cities outside the European Union as well. The activities eligible for support focus on assistance in setting up local and regional agencies concerned wholly or primarily with energy management. Each proposal of this type must include all of the following: - A work programme covering a minimum of three years for implementation of specific energy management projects, namely: . Energy efficiency and harnessing renewable energy sources; . The first stage of this programme will be to produce energy balances and energy plans for regions, towns or cities still without them; - A forward financial plan for a period of three years; - A declaration by the proposers that: . They undertake to pursue specific energy objectives and will complete a clear cost-benefit analysis which will be submitted; . They do not already have specialist energy departments or agencies; . They undertake to set up such agencies and to provide them with sufficiently experienced staff; - An administrative framework providing clear proof of financial and decision-making autonomy of the future agencies, while maintaining the effective involvement of local authorities and elected officers in the project management in order to guarantee greater subsequent utilization of the results and their inclusion in municipal or regional policies. Only the following proposals are concerned: - Proposals bringing together regions, cities or towns in different Member States provided the activities are shared evenly between them, particularly projects involving regions, cities or towns which have already conducted the exercise in the fields covered, with a view to transferring know-how, expertise and technologies and achieving economies of scale. Proposals submitted which do not involve cooperation between towns, cities or regions in at least two different Member States will be accepted only in exceptional, duly substantiated circumstances. - Geographical priorities: . Frontier regions, cities or towns (either side of a land or sea frontier) close enough to generate joint energy projects with a view to more rational use of local energy resources and systems; . Outlying, rural or isolated regions and towns or cities in such regions, particularly where they display considerable potential in terms of renewable energy sources and energy saving or a sharp increase in energy consumption; . Regions, cities or towns in the new Member States (Austria, Finland and Sweden); . Regions, cities or towns facing serious environmental conservation problems; . Regions, cities or towns facing serious economic conversion problems; - Other priorities: . Proposals bringing together more than two regions, cities or towns in different Member States; . Proposals including a study of the socio-economic impact of energy management, particularly in terms of improving living conditions and combating factors leading to exclusion in underprivileged sectors; . Proposals connected with plans, in particular for towns, aiming at sustainable development. - Selection conditions: Only regional or local public bodies, or bodies exercising responsibility for energy policy at that level in partnership with them, may submit proposals. The absence of local or regional agencies with similar responsibilities must be certified. - Main assessment and selection criteria: . Compatibility with the Commission invitation to submit proposals; . Method and content of the programme; . Cooperation between towns, cities or regions in different Member States; . Effect on energy savings and local resources; . Other effects on sustainable development, employment, cohesion and the environment; . Effective involvement of local, elected officials at every stage of the operation; . Follow-up operations planned; . Dissemination of results. The Commission reserves the right, on the basis of the replies it receives, to propose combining proposals to provide maximum scope for cooperation. - Financial support: The Commission is able to grant up to a maximum of 40% of total costs in support of the proposals selected, up to a maximum amount of ECU 500,000 per proposal and a maximum of ECU 150,000 per agency set up. To obtain further information and a proposal form, please contact: European Commission Directorate-General for Energy (DG XVII) Unit A2 - Energy Management 226-236 avenue de Tervuren B-1150 Brussels Fax +32-2-2956105 Proposals must be sent to, or handed in at, the same address.