Inspiring non-EU countries

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    Cities in the member states of the European Union who wish to exchange with a city facing similar challenges in another global region are encouraged to apply for the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) city-to-city cooperation programme on sustainable urban development. The programme aims to foster links between EU cities and those in Latin America and the Caribbean, India, Japan, and North America. Through the programme, local leaders will be able to connect and gain new perspectives on pressing sustainable development issues.

    Successful candidates will be paired with a city that faces related challenges, allowing both parties to cooperate, build connections and share knowledge. Representatives from each city will take part in study tours, staff exchanges, trainings and seminars, etc. and will develop together a local action plan to drive sustainable urban development in the selected area.

    By joining the IUC city-to-city cooperation, your city will:

    COMMIT – Cooperate for at least 18 months with your international peers, allocate resources and time to develop a successful cooperation which will last beyond the lifetime of this programme

    LEARN - Get access to new ways of approaching challenges and benefit from a wider pool of good practices to draw upon; receive support in identifying innovative business models for financing local action

    SHARE - Help others to solve issues by sharing your own experiences and relaying knowledge

    EXCHANGE - Open your city to dialogue and partnership with new global peers, and relevant stakeholders (public and private)

    SHOWCASE - Profile your best practices and achievements internationally

    IMPLEMENT - Work with new partners to make your vision of sustainable urban development a reality through developing a Local Action Plan for sustainable urban development in a sector of your choice

    Deadline for EU cities' applications: 21st of September 

    For more information, please contact

    The 19th bilateral Summit between the EU and China took place on 1-2 June 2017 in Brussels in the framework of their strategic partnership. On the agenda were issues relating to trade, climate change and migration as well as foreign policy and security challenges. 

    As a key Summit side event, Commissioner Creţu met Mr HU Zucai, Vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in Brussels on 31 May. The Commissioner and the Vice-Chairman reviewed recent cooperation actions on regional and urban policy, and the plans for next steps, notably the recent launch of the EU-China city-to city component of the EU's new International Urban Cooperation programme. In the presence of the Commissioner and the Vice Chairman, nine cities - 5 from China and 4 from the EU, with Prague set to join the IUC programme as the fifth EU city - signed a Joint Declaration committing them to the IUC programme and to promoting longer-term cooperation on sustainable urban development themes. 

    Earlier in the day, and as part of this Summit side-event, DG REGIO and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China organized a regional and urban policy seminar: the "12th High Level Dialogue on Regional and Urban Policy Cooperation". The seminar was opened by Normunds Popens, Deputy Director General of DG REGIO, and Liu Sushe, Director General, Regional Economy, NDRC.


    In his remarks, Mr Popens drew attention to the growing priority attached to urban development in the EU, reflected in the EU's Urban Agenda of 2016. He added: "the EU and China have also signed up to the New Urban Agenda under Habitat 3 agreed in Quito in October last year. We in the European Union are committed to implementing this Agenda internally through our European urban development programmes and externally through our city-to-city cooperation with our major partners such as China".  The seminar was also the occasion for the launch of a new joint "Report on EU-China Regional Policy Cooperation, 2006-2016".

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International Affairs

In the international relations arena, the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy acts in support of, and in cooperation with the External Relations family of Directorates General (European External action Service EEAS and DEVCO) and with DG TRADE. There is a growing interest in different parts of world in the process of European integration, not just from an institutional point of view but also in terms of the policies that promote European cohesiveness. First and foremost among the latter is European regional policy which seeks to ensure that the benefits of the single market in Europe based on the free movement of goods and services, labour and capital, are as widely spread as possible.

Principal among the features of EU regional policy that are of interest to third countries such as China, Russia and Brazil, as well as to international organisations such as MERCOSUR and ASEAN, are the financial dimension and the geographical targeting of resources between Member States and regions; the geographical and strategic objectives; and the different dimensions of the implementation system. So far as countries in the European Neighbourhood are concerned the EU wishes to promote key concepts of EU regional policy such as open markets, respect for the environment, participative democracy and partnership in the conception and implementation of development policy.

This interest comes at a time when the policy has undergone substantial changes. In effect, EU regional policy today is a means of delivering the Union's policy priorities across its territory. It does so by co-financing integrated, national or regional investment programmes, where the Union's contribution to the programmes is greatest in the least prosperous areas.

Today therefore, EU regional policy is an integral part of economic policy, but with the unique feature that it is delivered with the consent and involvement of the grassroots through a multi-level governance system where each level - European, national, regional and local - has a role to play. The involvement of the grassroots, for example, in devising regional and local strategies and selecting projects creates a sense of ownership of European policy and in that way contributes to territorial integration. It is these features that have inspired interest in large countries with major territorial imbalances that are seeking to combine the pursuit of a more even pattern of growth with governance systems that contribute to transparent public policies and that help to further integration through decentralisation.

As well as projecting notions of inter-regional solidarity and good governance, cooperation in the field of regional policy also provides the opportunity to project other values such as respect for the free market through competition, state aid and public procurement rules, for environmental rules and policies and for equal opportunities and minority rights. These create the framework conditions under which EU financial support is granted and provide positive incentives to achieving high standards in public policy.

Regional Policy Dialogues

The Commission, DG REGIO, has concluded formal agreements on regional policy cooperation with China PDF EN zh, Russia PDF EN EN, Brazil PDF EN EN, and Ukraine PDF EN Ukrainian, Georgia PDF EN, Moldova PDF EN, Chile PDF EN es, Peru PDF EN es, Argentina PDF en es, Japan PDF EN, Mexico PDF EN es, Sistema de Integracion de Centro-America (SICA) PDF EN es, Colombia PDF EN es. These countries are confronted with wide regional disparities as well as major challenges in terms of coordinating the different levels of government, and ensuring that decentralization can be achieved without compromising efficiency.

Brochure : European Regional Policy, an inspiration for Countries outside the EU?

November 2009 - PDF en es fr hy ka mo pt Russian Ukrainian Chinese

Posters: PDF en