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Urban development

More than two thirds of Europe’s population live in cities and towns and this share continues to grow. That’s why urban development - economic, social and environmental - is central to the EU’s Regional Policy. An integrated approach that ensures cities excel in these three areas will help to achieve the Europe 2020 strategy of ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’. And urban development that is also sustainable will not only drive the EU’s competitiveness in today’s changing world but also safeguard a high-quality of life for all of Europe’s citizens - both now and in the future.

Consultation on "The urban dimension of EU policies – key features of an EU Urban Agenda"

Public consultation

Commission Communication


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Online questionnaire for the public consultation on an EU Urban Agenda

Press Release and Memo on Rapid

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What is integrated sustainable urban development?

Urban development is about the social, economic and physical transformation of cities. These processes combined are considered in the EU’s approach to integrated urban development. That means that everything from the advantages of economic activity, innovation, education and culture to the challenges of urban sprawl, poverty, migration, congestion and beyond, are dealt with cohesively. Integrated problems need integrated solutions. And solutions must be sustainable so that any urban development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Why invest?

Cities are seen as both the source and solution of today’s economic, environmental and social challenges - they are home to 75 % of the EU's population, they account for about 80 % of energy use and they generate about 85 % of Europe's GDP. Therefore, cities are central to achieve the Europe 2020 targets of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth within an increasingly competitive global context.

Web info on the urban dimension of EU policies and initiatives - A single point of access

Under the above link, you may find

  1. An inventory of the various programmes and initiatives which are funded by the European Commission and/or which have a European urban dimension
  2. A link to the relevant web addresses on the Europa website or on other websites is provided under each entry.

Statistical snapshot 2007-2013

During the 2007-2013 programming period, the EU invested some EUR 21.1 billion in sustainable urban development, broken down as follows:

  • EUR 3.4 billion for the rehabilitation of industrial sites and contaminated land areas
  • EUR 9.8 billion for urban and rural regeneration projects
  • EUR 7 billion for clean urban transport
  • EUR 917 million for housing

Objectives for 2014-2020

During the 2014-2020 programming period, European cities will benefit even more from the EU’s Regional Policy:

  • Urban areas are directly targeted by several of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) investment priorities. This means greater opportunity - for sustainable urban mobility, for physical, economic and social regeneration of deprived communities and for improvements in research and innovation capacity.
  • In each EU member state, a minimum 5 % of the ERDF will be invested in integrated sustainable urban development; its on-the-ground deployment will be decided and directed by urban authorities.
  • 330 million Euro will fund innovative actions in the field of sustainable urban development over a seven-year period.
  • An urban development network will review the on-the-ground deployment of European funds as well as support the exchange of experience between cities involved in integrated sustainable urban development and in urban innovative actions.
  • Cities are encouraged to use Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), thus paving the way for greater involvement of local stakeholders from businesses, the public sector and civil society who are central to urban neighbourhood regeneration.
  • Integrated territorial investments may be used to implement area-based strategies that rely on investments across different fields.
  • URBACT, the European cities networking cooperation programme will be more result-oriented and will incorporate the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities, the toolkit designed to help cities promote and enhance their work on integrated sustainable urban development.
  • The Urban Audit provides annual data on 811 cities in the 28 EU and another 17 cities in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The annual data covers a limited set of indicators covering demography, labour market, housing, health and crime. For census years, a slightly large data collection is carried out to cover more issues such income disparities and educational qualifications.

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EU Regional Policy: Stay informed