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Capital City Mayors discuss their role in recovery & growth

Flagship Projects


Developing smart energy technology for growth and fighting climate change

Funding: EUR 3.9 million (of which EUR 1.56 is from the European Regional Development Fund)

The 'Amsterdam, Smart City' project's aim was to test new technologies that save energy and then make them available to people and businesses in the Amsterdam region. The objectives of energy conservation and CO2 emission reduction on the one hand and innovation-based economic growth on the other hand were simultaneously addressed.

The City of Amsterdam set itself even more ambitious goals than the EU as a whole when it comes to tackling climate change: to make all municipal organisations climate-impact neutral before 2015 and to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels by the year 2025. The city's Climate Programme entitled 'New Amsterdam Climate' is the route to this goal. Serving this programme 'Amsterdam, Smart City' showed how energy saving can be delivered while promoting innovation-based economic growth and supporting promising businesses.

'Amsterdam, Smart City' acted as a catalyst for new innovations in the field of smart energy technologies. Within the project over 50 private firms (multinationals and SMEs) worked together with TNO (Dutch Knowledge Institute, a public independent research institute), Housing Cooperations and the Municipality.

The activities of the project included building the 'Amsterdam, Smart City' platform; developing and validating more than 12 test-projects in the fields of sustainable housing, working, mobility and public space; sharing knowledge about the project and disseminating results through the project website,


'Re-launching Athens' initiative

The recent 'Re-Launching Athens Initiative', which received €84m from the ERDF aims to revive the city centre to make it more attractive to investors. The project is based on 5 priorities:

  • competitiveness
  • improving quality of life
  • regeneration of urban areas
  • handling the social crisis
  • sustainability

Athens underground revitalized

This project has dramatically changed urban transport in the Attica basin. It has raised the standard of living for Athens residents and improved air quality. Further work (extending a metro line) is continuing to improve life in the city: in particular on the line linking Piraeus and Kifisia in the north.

The EU is co-financing the project to the value of €50 m (of a total investment of €79.2m) with 205 jobs directly created during its implementation. Some 440 000 commuters are benefitting from improved traffic flow, safety and comfort.


Regenerating disadvantaged areas

The Neighbourhood Management Berlin project is a strategy launched by the Berlin city authorities in 1999 with the aim of regenerating socially disadvantaged areas of the city. Working in neighbourhoods facing issues as diverse as neglect of public and green spaces, ethnic integration challenges and high youth unemployment, the project engages neighbourhood actors and includes them in the democratic decision-making process.
Neighbourhood Councils (represented by local institutions and citizens’ associations: schools, churches, local police, housing societies and residents) were set-up to enable residents to shape their own destinies and encourage them to take responsibility for the improvement of living conditions in their own neighbourhoods. 
The most popular actions undertaken include support to schools, the refurbishment of public venues to strengthen social cohesion, and the promotion of a shared neighbourhood culture. Activities have now expanded to encompass career support as well as an increased focus on social and ethnic integration – particularly in neighbourhoods with a high proportion of the population from a migrant background (up to 79 % in some cases).
The project received €233.5 million of which EUR 83.5 million is from ERDF



An ERDF investment of €57m has been given for the redevelopment of the east and west banks of the river, particularly focused on socio-economic development and the creation of growth and jobs supported by the EU and Belgium. This program has a budget of €114m, 50% financed by the ERDF and has three major objectives:

  • balanced territorial development;
  • increasing economic dynamism and employment;
  • improving the attractiveness of the area and the surroundings.

‘OpenSoon’; is one such sponsored initiative (€3.25m investment from ERDF) which aims to enhance the attractiveness and support the revitalization of commercial arteries of the area through transforming them into centers of business innovation. The target audiences are local residents but also entrepreneurs and traders, businesses, tourists and shoppers.

The investment is expected to lead to the creation of 120 and to the revitalization of 140 businesses in Brussels. The project was financed through the ERDF, and the City of Brussels. 'Ménage à 2', a fashion outlet with a special selection of designer clothes and accessories is one of the numerous shops that opened their doors recently – in one of Brussels more economically depressed areas, thanks to ‘OpenSoon’ .


Developing & equipping Bucharest–Ilfov emergency services

The Romanian capital’s emergency services are currently being transformed into a more efficient and modern facility, better suited to quickly respond to demand, thanks to EU Regional Policy investment. A fleet of brand new, state-of-the-art fire engines and ambulances, with mobile command and control centres for interventions in emergency situations are being supplied through a total investment of just over €10m - €6.8m of which is from the ERDF. The improved services will provide security and a better quality of life for the local population.

For more information:


There are currently 27 urban regeneration projects on-going in Budapest, worth €9m: One notable example is the Magdolna Quarter regeneration project

Rejuvenating a neglected quarter of Budapest, Józsefváros district, Budapest, Central Hungary

The Magdolna Quarter Programme II marks the second stage of an integrated social urban renewal project supported by the EU and aimed at regenerating the Magdolna quarter in Budapest. The programme, which was implemented between August 2008 and May 2011, sought to reintegrate this neglected quarter into the life of the district and the city and to build an inclusive neighbourhood.

The Magdolna Quarter Programme II worked on repairing and renovating physical structures (including the reconstruction of Mátyás square) and offering training and information sessions about local employment and services.

Ultimately, the programme aims to change this formerly run-down district into a livable and safe area, while both including and educating local inhabitants in the process. The situation in the quarter will continue to improve into the future as stage three of the programme plans further integrated projects in line with the district strategy up to 2020.
The project received € 7.2m from ERDF for 2007 to 2013, out of a total investment of €8.2m


Clean urban transport - Metro Line 11 opens up the suburbs

Work on extending one of Madrid’s metro lines has not only improved the quality of life of the local population, but also boosts the economy and enhances the attraction of the region to investors.
The project, which received €40m from the ERDF, expanded Metro Line No.11 from La Peseta Station, in the Carabanchel Urban Development Area (PAU) of the city, to the Leganés La Fortuna district on the outskirts of the city reducing travel times for commuters, as well as road traffic accidents.

The project also included reconstruction of the Serafín Díez Antón Park, with an area of almost 31 200 m², directly above the La Fortuna station. The park includes recreational amenities - walks, sports areas and a children’s play area, with immediate positive impacts for the quality of life of local citizens.. There is also provision for biking, facilitating access to station entrances for cyclists. These facilities include three bicycle parking areas and 250 metres of “bike lane”.
More information on the project


Rehabilitation of Eleutheria Square

The EU through the ERDF has contributed €18m to the Rehabilitation of Nicosia’s Eleutheria Square and surrounding area. Works began in February 2012 and are expected to last two years. The project will involve general infrastructure and landscaping work of the surrounding area as well as re-construction of the square itself along with building a much needed underground parking.

The project has a total public investment of €20 million: €13 million for the Square and €7 for the underground parking,  The renovation works at Eleftheria Square are part of a number of EU co-financed projects including the recently completed bus terminal on Solomou Square.

Nicosia's historic 'Old Poorhouse' given a new purpose

Transformation of the Old Poorhouse, a historic building in Nicosia, into a community centre providing social and cultural services to local people, especially the elderly and immigrants.
A series of urban development projects transformed a once decaying neighbourhood in the eastern quarter of Nicosia, restoring one of its abandoned historic buildings (the Old Poorhouse) and turning it into a contemporary centre - mode of inclusion, where locals, notably the elderly and immigrants, can benefit from social and cultural services.

Completed on 21 December 2008, the project maintained the architectural beauty of the original building and added new features, particularly the interior. In total, some 3 000 m2 of buildings and open spaces were transformed for future open-air activities.

The main building was designed to host the different activities of the Centre. The northern part is used for administration work, the middle part – which is the older section – hosts the cultural activities, and the southern part is utilised for social programmes for the elderly, immigrants and children, where they have use of different areas and rooms, depending on the group involved. In all, the project covered a total building area of 780 m² and open spaces of 2 150 m².
The project received over €1m in EU co-investment form the ERDF


Three new metro lines for Bulgaria's capital

Funding: EUR 441 million/140 million European Investment Bank loan

These projects in Sofia's metro system represent a focused and well-planned EU investment solving significant transport problems. The new lines bring the metro within reach of an additional 190 000 residents and reduce both travel times and CO2 emissions. Through its connectivity with the national railway network, the project is also facilitating the union’s internal market. About 1 100 jobs will be created during implementation. Evidence-based analysis by WWF/Friends of the Earth have estimated an 18% reduction of traffic accidents, 905 000 tons/year reduction of noxious gases (incl. GHG), 15-20% noise reduction thanks to the new lines. Direct and indirect economic effects are estimated at 35 million euros per year.


In the Swedish capital, ERDF Funds are mainly invested in assisting knowledge development, the commercialisation of goods and services, supporting innovation and economic development and prevention of discrimination. The implementation of the EU co-financed regional programme for Stockholm, just like overall for Sweden, is progressing very well, with the entire budget already allocated to projects.

Stockholm is aiming for a "vision" of making Stockholm a true global leader in areas of strategic importance to the city. This implies accommodating a growing metropolis, incorporating new developments with a focus on sectorial clusters (for example ICT or a Life Science-cluster) or new urban developments with a state of the art focus on environmental sustainability.

One such ERDF co-financed model project is ‘Start-Up Stockholm’, an initiative (15m SEK approved, or about €1.3m) for creating start-ups including primarily free of charge support/advisory services to promote entrepreneurship. It is a public-private partnership in terms of both financing and advisory services between the EU, Swedish government and major insurance, audit and banking groups.

While entrepreneurship is increasing, it remains at the level of 4% among the inhabitants of Stockholm. The project has facilitated some 5000 annual advisory consultations in 2011-2012 resulting in some 4,300 start-up companies, with a high survival rate of some 80%.


EU co-financed projects in Valetta are mostly in the framework of the ‘sustainable tourism’ priority axis (ERDF €102 million, i.e. 23% of total 2007-2013 ERDF allocation) and the ‘urban regeneration’ priority axis (ERDF € 127 million, i.e. 28.6% of total 2007-2013 ERDF).

Sustainable tourism projects examples include:

  • Restoration and rehabilitation of historical fortifications of Valletta
  • "Vertical Connection" (lift) from Grand Harbour to Valletta
  • Regeneration of Peacock Gardens
  • Rehabilitation of Fort St. Elmo

Fort St. Elmo Heritage Experience – Museum and Ramparts Walk

Valletta's Fort St. Elmo Heritage Experience is part of an ERDF-funded project, launched with the objective of restoring some of the city's historic buildings in a sustainable fashion. The investment involved the renovation of Fort St. Elmo and the establishment of a Military History Museum inside the building, as well as a ramparts walk along Carafa Enceinte. The main aim of the project was to bring old historic buildings back to life and to revitalize cultural awareness in the city through bringing history close to people.

During the first year of full operation of the new establishments, a total of 150,000 people are expected to have walked along the Enceinte. The project will contribute to the renovation of further historical buildings in the future, reaping their full benefit for tourism and culture. The EU funded 85% of a total investment of € 15 million, out of which 70% was funded by the ERDF.
More information


The operational programme for Lisbon 2007-2013 is worth €307 Million ERDF and invests in SMEs, urban mobility, environment, urban regeneration, quality of life, proximity services for special needs groups etc.

Regeneration scheme improved social cohesion in deprived neighbourhoods:

For decades the densely populated neighbourhoods of Damaia and Buraca in the city of Amadora, north-west of Lisbon, have been blighted by high unemployment and poverty, but a regeneration scheme has restored the urban environment and brought a new spirit of optimism and confidence to the area.

The regeneration project, which received over €2.5m in EU investment, has tackled the scourge of drug addiction, promoted social inclusion for the largely African immigrant population, improved educational and training opportunities and has also promoted economic activities. Investments served to renovate buildings, public spaces and to build social facilities. As well as funding various schemes aimed at better integrating the local population into the labour market, promoting self-employment and the setting up of small businesses.
In addition, social, educational, cultural and sporting facilities – such as schools, community gardens and care facilities for the elderly – were improved or established. A particular aim of the project was to improve the integration of the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups in society. Meanwhile, high failure and drop-out rates in schools were tackled by improving educational and recreational activities for the young.

The regeneration programme formed part of the second round of so-called URBAN community initiatives, which provided ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) support to some 70 deprived urban areas across the EU.


A new business Incubator in Luxembourg covering 4400 m² is expected to provide a boost to start-up businesses and thus aims to contribute to economic growth in a smart and sustainable way.   
The Incubator, located in the south of the city, has a capacity to create 6 to 8 successful businesses per year and the project is also expected to create 15 to 20 new jobs annually. The Incubator will be built into the former blast furnaces which are classified national monuments and it is intended to host young businesses that are using Cité des Sciences research to help their development. It provides offices, equipment and infrastructure suitable for industrial or commercial use, all under reasonable conditions, as well as services whose aim is to help turn ideas into real business projects. The ERDF funded EUR 2 million out of a total investment of EUR 8 million.
More information on the project


National Open Access Scholarly Communication and Information Centre (SCIC)

European Regional Development Fund (85 million litas), Lithuania’s national budget (15 million litas)

SCIC is a library of the future, available twenty-four hours a day, 24/7 to all user groups in the country. Opened by Vilnius city Mayor on 06/02/2013 and creating 80 jobs thus far, its main objective is to provide a lifelong learning and services based on the most advanced IT technologies, to ensure interaction of science, studies and commerce and learn from the best practices around the world.  Establishment of methodical and competency management centre within the centre of scholarly communication will ensure systematic competence development opportunities for the staff of scientific and academic libraries. The new centre offers up to 700 working spaces for visitors and several spacious reading rooms and quarters for the group works. It accommodates about 0, 31 million publications in the users’ zones in the open stacks.


The Main Railway Station Signalling and Interlocking System

Funding: €10 Mio from IPA funds

European Regional Development Fund (85 million litas), Lithuania's national budget (15 million litas)

This project related to the renewal and modernisation of the signalling and interlocking systems within the Zagreb Main Railway Station area. Zagreb main railway station is located at the junction of Trans European Network (TEN) corridor X (which links Central Europe, via Salzburg, Zagreb and Belgrade, to Thessalonica in Greece) and TEN corridor Vb (which links Budapest via Zagreb with the Adriatic port of Rijeka), which are the most important rail corridors in Croatia. The project aims the developing of signalling and interlocking infrastructure within the area of the Main railway station of Zagreb. Upon completion it will eliminate former severe speed restrictions, the greatest bottle neck for the free flow of international rail traffic through Zagreb Main Railway Station. This project is currently under construction, the planned completion date is end of 2013.

Croatian rail moves up a gear

The modernisation of the Vinkovci to Tovarnik section of the Zagreb to Belgrade railway is part of a broader sustainable development strategy to improve connections between Croatian regions, create a 'crossborder effect' with Serbia and bring the Balkans closer to the rest of Europe.

The main objectives of the project are: to improve the line capacity and speed capability; to facilitate growth in national and international passenger rail traffic; to accommodate greater volumes of international freight (46% of Croatia's rail freight is export oriented); and to increase cross-border passenger and freight traffic between Croatia and Serbia.
More information on the project

The Biosciences Technology Commercialisation and Incubation Centre

Funding: €14 Mio from IPA funds

The new BIOCentre in Zagreb campus will support biotechnology and life sciences start-ups in Croatia and the South-East European Region, in offering high-tech R&D equipment, as well as expertise and services necessary for technology business incubation and the commercialisation of innovative projects. The centre should be inaugurated by Mid-2015.

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