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Urban II : context

Structural actions in support of urban issues

The Framework for Action for Sustainable Urban Development adopted by the Commission in October 1998 recognises the importance of the urban dimension in Community policies, and highlights in particular the possibilities offered by the regional development programmes co-financed by the Structural Funds.

The programming documents of the regions eligible for priority Objectives 1 and 2 during the period 2000-06 comprise integrated measures of economic and social development covering many urban areas. Through an integrated territorial approach, these measures can make a substantial contribution to the balanced development or conversion of the regions concerned. Furthermore, the measures financed under Objective 3 also strengthen social cohesion in the towns not covered by Objectives 1 and 2.

The Urban II Community Initiative presents distinct added value for intervention under priority Objective programmes by supporting the formulation and implementation of especially innovative strategies for sustainable economic and social regeneration in a limited number of urban areas throughout Europe. URBAN II can also provide a link between small-scale innovative approaches and the adoption of an integrated participatory approach in the main Structural Fund programmes.

Within this context, Urban II has the following objectives :

  1. to promote the design and implementation of highly innovative strategies of economic and social regeneration in small and medium-sized towns and declining areas in major conurbations;
  2. to reinforce and share knowledge and experience on regeneration and sustainable urban development in the European Union.

During the 1994-99 programming period, URBAN I
financed programmes in a total of 118 urban areas. The total Community assistance was almost EUR 900 million at 1999 prices, and this allowed EUR 1.8 billion total eligible investment costs to help 3.2 million people throughout Europe. The schemes implemented considerably improved the quality of life in the targeted areas. The promising achievements show the importance of the approach proposed by URBAN in tackling the high concentration of social, environmental and economic problems increasingly present in urban conglomerations. This includes several operations combining the rehabilitation of obsolete infrastructure with economic and labour market actions, complemented by measures to combat social exclusion and upgrade the quality of the environment.

A further EUR 164 million between 1989 and 1999 helped to support 59 Urban Pilot Projects (UPPs) under the innovative actions of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). These projects promoted urban innovation and experimentation in economic, social and environmental matters on a smaller scale than URBAN, but have produced encouraging results, particularly as regards participative, integrated approaches to urban regeneration.


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