This report highlights how the unique characteristics of European cities can support the EU priorities of jobs & growth, migration and climate action. Cities boost innovation, embrace people from different backgrounds and reduce our impact on the planet. Cities that operate at the metropolitan scale and have sufficient autonomy and resources can better exploit these urban advantages.
As cities have important investment needs, EU Cohesion Policy will provide more than EUR 100 billion for projects on innovation in SMEs, social integration, low-carbon mobility and energy efficiency in the period 2014-2020. To help cities learn from each other, the report compares the performance of cities and provides examples of policies that have worked.
This report was prepared to support the Urban Agenda for the EU and the new global Urban Agenda adopted. It was jointly produced by the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission and UN-Habitat.
The 2016 RegioStars Awards winner in Category 2 “Sustainable Growth” is the Centro Bio: Bio-industries, Biorefineries And Bioproducts (Centro, Portugal - European Regional Development Fund)
The BioCentre Project (Bio-industries, Biorefineries and Bioproducts) is a technological and innovation campus aiming to help rural regions with low population density to become less dependent on energy and raw materials.
The BioCentre campus collaborates with researchers and business to research and invest in innovative new products and technologies based on the model of economic activity within a closed loop – meaning that products can be re-used and recycled, thus reducing the use of energy and raw material.
The project, which represents a public/private investment of EUR 9.2 million, has already won 3 excellence awards, has given impulse to the creation of 24 sub-projects in R&D, saw the creation of 4 spin-offs and 6 start-ups and a follow-up investment of EUR 125 million (followed by the European Investment Bank).
The project also helped in setting up the All-Portuguese Association of Bioeconomy and Circular Economy, connecting it to society and stakeholders, as well as the creation of 38 projects of scholar entrepreneurship, involving 2360 young people.
The 2016 RegioStars Awards winner in Category 4 “CityStar”, is the Revitalization of Lower Town District in Gdansk (Pomorskie Voivodeship, Poland - European Regional Development Fund)
The revitalisation of the Lower Town district, a historical district of the city of Gdansk included investments in infrastructure and social fabric as well as social and cultural activities to tackle the specific problems in this area.
All operations were aimed at fighting against social exclusion, with some activities focusing more particularly on children and young people from disadvantaged families, and others directly at their parents.
In order to meet their needs, local citizens were involved from an early stage, and a multilevel partnership was created by the City of Gdansk with local organisations such as the Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, which intensified its cultural work combined with social activities to encourage active participation from the residents.
Through the project, 33 facilities underwent revitalisation efforts, and a total area of 22 564m² was renovated. There were 210 social inclusion programmes in which 9463 people participated and 5 new jobs were created at the city's children day care centre.
The 2016 RegioStars Awards winner in Category 1 “Smart Growth” is the Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster (Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark - European Regional Development Fund)
The Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster project was launched in 2009 to ensure smart growth, innovation and cooperation among Danish cleantech firms and knowledge institutions. The overall vision of the project was to develop Region Zealand and the Capital Region of Denmark into one of the world’s leading cleantech clusters, creating superior value for the participating cluster companies and the scientific community by creating valuable networks involving a wide range of participants, including knowledge institutions, industry promoters, leading cleantech companies and public authorities.
Through a focused effort, the project created 1096 jobs, supported 126 start-ups and facilitated many new cooperations and partnerships. After having merged with another Danish Lean Energy Cluster, the organisation now has over 170 members and holds the GOLD label in Cluster Management Excellence.
Website - Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster
The 2016 RegioStars Awards winner in Category 3 “Inclusive Growth” Academy of Social Economy (Malopolska Region, Poland - European Social Fund )
The Academy of Social Economy Development Project was implemented by the Regional Centre for Social Policy in Krakow and co-financed by the European Social Fund.
The project aimed to bring together individuals from marginalised communities or in a difficult situation and organisations which could help them re-integrating into society (such as NGOs, local government representatives, social and employment service, social economy entities) and create a professional and comprehensive support infrastructure for social economy in the Malopolska Region.
Over 1700 individuals benefitted from the project, as well as 245 social economy entities and 203 service entities. In addition, 126 organisations participated in local partnerships, a paper magazine was created and distributed to 1500 persons and 22 study tours were organised as well as 10 social economy events.
Website - Academy of Social Economy
The 2016 RegioStars Awards winner in Category 5 “Effective Management” is the Transparency Initiative Jonvabaliai (Fireflies) (National Project, Lithuania - European Social Fund and Technical Assistance)
Improving the public perception of transparency in the use of EU funds was the main goal of the Lithuanian project Jonvabaliai (Fireflies).
The project was centred around an interactive website, hosting a map with projects financed by European Structural Funds. Project managers could, on a voluntarily basis, submit information on their project such as results, prices, public procurement procedures, company's shareholders, anti-corruption measures, funds management and more. The more information was made public, the more “transparency fireflies” the project would earn.
Since September 2014, more than 630 project managers have joined the initiative following a series of actions which encouraged projects to join. These included an advertising campaign, a contest for municipalities, the possibility to use the initiative’s visual identity, the proposal to join open-project days, the production of road-signs inviting people to visit the projects, as well as a TV-show dedicated to the Fireflies project.
The Fireflies website was visited by 35 500 unique visitors accounting for 140 000 page views and as a result of the project, the proportion of citizens who consider the transparency level on allocation of EU funds’ as “transparent” or “rather transparent” increased from 28% to 50. 9%.
Website - Transparency Initiative Jonvabaliai
The overall aim of Scandinavian Game Developers has been to ensure
that entrepreneurs in the Scandinavian gaming industry can establish
viable companies and survive in a highly competitive business
When the project started, the gaming industry needed new business
models. The project’s Swedish partner, the University of Skövde,
designed a business model for entertainment and educational games – and
business coaches, who counselled the young startups in the 2 project
incubators, ensured the mainstreaming of the new model.
The project established 22 new small companies which now employ 67
persons, and just recently one of these companies attracted an external
investment of around € 270.000 (or 2 million DKK). All the new companies
have stated that the incubators have been vital to the survival of
their companies, and that they will continue to develop their companies
in the incubators which they see as very dynamic and inspiring
Apart from the business models and trainings, the project has
produced and disseminated a number of magazines on how to create and run
companies in the games industry and has created a database on
Scandinavian competences within the gaming industry which resulted in 78
cross border meetings, conferences, and workshops with a total of 1793
Website - Scandinavian Game Developers
The Sustainable Construction Programme, in Andalusia, Spain, seeks through energy saving and renewable energy to promote the energy refurbishment of buildings, rehabilitate urban areas, improve the competitiveness of companies of the construction sector, create skilled employment and reduce energy poverty.
The Programme consists of three main actions:
- An incentive scheme of 116 million EUR and 48 possible actions to facilitate the energy refurbishment of existing buildings.
- Implementation of a financing line, specifically through revolving funds for companies.
- Creation of the “Sustainable Construction Roundtable” involving more than 70 experts from different disciplines.
Quantitatively, the outputs that have resulted from the incentive scheme include 24.562 actions (60.000 citizens, 600 neighbourhood communities and 2.500 companies), 170 million euros invested, and 7.663 collaborating companies. 80.000 new jobs are expected to be generated in the next 5 years.
The project has also achieved 26.000 toe/year of energy saved and/or diversified and 62.000 tons of CO2 avoided, created 14.000 direct jobs in the implementation and management of the actions, resulted in economic saving of more than 210 million euros in companies, citizens, neighbourhood communities and other entities.
The Eurocity of Chaves-Verín is a cross-border conurbation located on the border between North Portugal and the Autonomous Spanish Community of Galicia, formed by the cities of Chaves (42 000 inhabitants) and Verín (15 000 inhabitants).
The key objectives were to provide Eurocity with a structure that ensures efficient cooperation, involve citizens to encourage coexistence, create euro citizenship, boost the economy and sustainable development of the territory.
Both cities worked together on a wide range of projects, such as offering of joint services and joint municipality facilities, a cross-border office for youth, joint cultural events, commerce, sports, leisure, tourism and promotion of entrepreneurship.
In total, 3,500 people participated in youth exchanges and 40,000 people in sports, extracurricular and cultural events. About 50 cross-border micro-initiatives were supported. The success of the project has inspired the establishment of new Eurocities along the Portuguese-Spanish border.
The project has demonstrated that institutional, economic, social, cultural and environmental integration of two cities is possible across borders.