Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Programme funding

EUR 757 million

Official Journal Reference

C 180 of 1994-07-01
To provide assistance to responsible local authorities in the Member States in their efforts to provide the necessary amenities so as to attract economic activity and create confidence and security for the population living in deprived urban areas, integrating them into the economy and the social mainstream.


The URBAN initiative is established to provide support to selected projects submitted by the Member States aimed at assisting socio-economically deprived urban areas.

The initiative places an emphasis on an integrated approach, supporting business creation, improving infrastructures and the physical environment, providing customized training, actions for equality of opportunity, and social amenities. Whilst the initiative cannot hope to match in scale what is in effect a major problem of social society, it aims to act as a catalyst in a broad-based approach, by undertaking key schemes to help deprived urban areas achieve a lasting improvement in living standards for their inhabitants.

In May 1996, the initiative was extend with additional financial resources made available for targeted measures in a limited number of urban areas within cities. In implementing these measures, special attention should be given for actions in favour equality of opportunities for women, long-term unemployment and the environmnet in urban areas.


Eligible measures:

- Launching of new economic activities:
. Provision of workshops; support for business, commerce, cooperatives, mutual associations, and services for SMEs; creation of business centres, technology transfer;
. Creation of public/private partnerships in particular to manage integrated development programmes;
. Creation of a pool of management and marketing consultants; customized counselling for businessmen; advice to starters;

- Ensuring employment for local people:
. Customized training schemes and language training orientated in particular to the specific needs of minorities;
. Training for new technologies, e.g. computer skills needed in the financial services sector or computer-based production for the commercial arts;
. Mobile units for employment and training advice;
. Work experience schemes for long-term unemployed on local rehabilitation projects;
. Support for job intensive projects at the local level;

- Improvement of social, health and security provisions:
. Provision of nursery and creche facilities;
. Improvement of health conditions, including support for drug rehabilitation centres;
. Increasing security and preventing criminality, involvement of residents in the supervision of neighbourhoods, improved street lighting;

- Improvement of infrastructures and environmental conditions linked to the above measures:
. Renovation of buildings to accommodate new social and economic activities;
. Rehabilitation of public spaces including green areas;
. Improvement of energy efficiency;
. Improvement to access of telematic services;
. Reclamation of derelict sites and contaminated land;
. Provision of cultural, leisure and sports amenities;
. Actions to facilitate the mobility of the local population;

- Special workshops to give incentives, skills and opportunities to residents for the refurbishing, maintenance and improved security of housing estates;

- Support in improving the local capacity to solve problems, including exchange schemes and the creation of partnerships of the city organizations and actors concerned.


Community assistance in the form of loans, grants and technical assistance is made available for eligible measures which are contained in operation programmes submitted by the Member States and approved by the Commission.

Member States wishing to benefit from the URBAN initiative were invited to submit detailed proposals for operational programmes, or where appropriate, applications for global grants for urban areas, before 1 November 1994. The Member States' proposals must include an appreciation of the situation indicating the objectives to be attained and should include a time table, criteria and procedures for implementation, monitoring and assessment. During and at the end of the planning period, the Commission must evaluate, in partnership with the Member States concerned, the results of the programmes submitted. The European Parliament, the Management Committee on the Community initiatives and the monitoring committees will be informed of the results of such evaluations and the action taken in response to them.

Eligible areas for the purpose of the initiative include a limited number of urban areas within cities and urban agglomerations with a population of more than 100,000. In exceptional cases, urban areas in smaller cities may be taken into consideration. Target areas are typically geographically identifiable urban neighbourhoods with a minimum size of population, a high level of unemployment, a decayed urban fabric, bad housing conditions and a lack of social amenities.

It is estimated that a maximum of 50 individual projects could be supported under the initiative, with priority being given to innovative projects forming part of long-term integration strategies being implemented by the cities concerned. Selected projects are expected to be of a demonstrative character for other areas suffering from similar problems. All projects should be completed in 1999 at the latest.

Support is to be provided for European networks for mutual cooperation and exchange of information in sharing experience from schemes that have already proved successful, so long as these requirements are not already met by cooperation activities assisted under other Community initiatives or programmes. These exchange of experience networks may include cities in regions not currently eligible for ERDF assistance.

Where possible and appropriate, operations funded by this initiative should be planned and implemented taking into account other actions under the Structural Funds and Community programmes, such as the Poverty IV and LEONARDO DA VINCI programmes. Activities supported by grants from the EFTA Cohesion Fund and loans from the European Investment Bank should also be taken into consideration.


URBAN was established by a Decision of the European Commission, meeting on 15 June 1995, in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations governing the Structural Funds.
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