On February 17th and 18th, CAAC attended the Cities of Tomorrow Forum, represented by its presidency (A Corunna), by member Santander and by CAAC coordinator, Tamara Guirao. The aim of this event was to launch the discussions on an “Urban Agenda” for Europe. Thus opening the floor to stakeholders so as to define priorities, content, methods of implementation and the expected impact of an urban agenda in the European Union for the local authorities against the background identified by the Commission. These discussions should lead to the development of a communication from the Commission on the matter.
The current Greek Presidency and future presidencies (Italy, Latvia , Luxembourg) , are committed to supporting this process, where a clear direction was stated by Charlina Vitcheva , Director of DG Regio: “Cities should not be only the place of investment, but they should participate in decision-making “.
By its side, the Committee of the Regions calls for a more integrated approach to urban policy, so as to give cities a full role that shall create a new governance. A review of consultations will be held in April under the Greek Presidency, before the informal meeting on regional policy .
On the morning of the 17th, Ms. Tamara Guirao attended the “city networks meeting”, where she explained that “Cities do not work alone, that they collaborate among them and that they make good use of territorial cooperation, as the experiences of both CAAC and CECICN show.” Speaking at the panel, the Mayor of Santander explained that “Cities are exploring and implementing new management while increasing local participation.“
The following debates discussed essential matters as the Forum for Urban Development, the ERDF articles on urban dimension, URBACT III and the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities.
New Urban Development Network: The Forum for Urban Development
The Forum for Urban Development (art 9 ERDF) is a new tool for the Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 . Managed by the Commission, it will direct dialogue with cities. Unlike URBACT, it will be entirely dedicated to integrated urban sustainable development (related to the obligation to devote a minimum of 5 % of the national ERDF envelope to this problem).
The platform, called New Urban Development Network ( UDN) will aim to fund and support projects that integrate economic , social, environmental, climatic and demographic dimensions, and will be composed by cities applying arts. 7 and 8 of the ERDF provisions.
Small cities (less than 50.000 ) can apply under an association of cities (i.e. cross-border association, agglomerations, etc…). City networks may apply as observers of the Network.
Integrated sustainable urban development
5% of the ERDF ( art. 7) shall be used for sustainable urban development. The Commission currently estimates that around €10 billion (3%) has explicitly been programmed for urban development at priority axis level within the ERDF operational programmes. So the proposal is to increase the amount explicitly dedicated to urban development by around 50% and to encourage this to be managed in an integrated way by cities themselves.
Selection will depend upon the final composition of Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes, thus being dealt at national level.
Innovative actions in the field of sustainable urban development
Created by new ERDF regulations, these actions will be launched by the European Commission , which will select through calls for proposals for studies and pilot projects to identify or test new solutions to the challenges of sustainable development integrated environment urban and of interest to the EU level . The Commission shall specify , by a delegated act , the rules relating to the principles of selection and management supported by the ERDF innovative actions .
Only cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants will be eligible, even if several cities can concourse together.
” URBACT III “
For the period 2014-2020 , the ERDF envelope for URBACT increases by 40 % (from 53 to 74 million euros ). URBACT encourages participating cities to develop action plans supported by local action groups involving all relevant partners. It will be again led by France and including the General Secretariat of the Interministerial Committee for the city ( SG- CIV) as managing authority for ” URBACT III .”
The draft will be sent to the Commission on late June for approval on the last quarter of 2014. Info days will be hold in December 2014 for a first call end of February 2015. The 1st URBACT Conference will take place in June 2015.
In line with the Europe 2020 strategy , eligible projects must involve one of the five priorities:
1. Strengthening research
2 . Supporting the shift towards a low- carbon ,
3 . Promoting a sustainable use of resources,
4. The social inclusion and the fight against poverty
5. Employment .
Several types of actions are envisaged: seminars, visits, diagnosis, integrated urban strategies, RFSC and plans, participative approach, communication and expertise, etc
The European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities
The initiative ‘ Innovation Union ‘ provides for the creation of European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) also on ” Smart Cities and Communities ” so as to federate , on a voluntary basis and without financial compensation , communities and businesses in the energy , transport and information and communications.
The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) brings together cities, industry and citizens to improve urban life through more sustainable integrated solutions.
This includes applied innovation, better planning, a more participatory approach, higher energy efficiency, better transport solutions, intelligent use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), etc.
Cities are invited to join until June, 15th.