Operational Programme 'URBACT II'

URBACT II (The Urban Development Network Programme) for Community structural assistance from the European Regional Development Fund under the European territorial cooperation objective in all the Member States, with the participation of Norway and Switzerland.


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On 2 October 2007, the European Commission approved URBACT II 2007-2013, a European Territorial Cooperation Programme that covers the whole of the European Union, plus Norway and Switzerland.

The programme aims to promote cooperation in the fields of urban development and to foster the exchange of experience among European cities. It has a total budget of around €68 million. Community assistance through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to some €53 million, which represents approximately 12% of the total EU investments earmarked for the interregional cooperation and networking programmes under the European Territorial Cooperation Objective of Cohesion Policy for 2007-2013.

1. Purpose and aim of the programme

The Urban Development Network Programme URBACT II aims to improve the effectiveness of urban development policies and to strengthen the shared concept of integrated urban development. It supports the capitalisation and dissemination of knowledge and actively contributes to the implementation of the (renewed) Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs and the EU Sustainable Development Strategy.

The programme’s main focus is to:

Provide an exchange and learning tool for policy decision-makers, practitioners and other bodies involved in developing urban policies: URBACT II is an exchange platform used to set up Thematic Networks and Working Groups (“projects") – each project is essentially composed of cities, but local authorities, universities and research centres can also get involved;

  • Learn from the exchanges between URBACT partners that share experiences and good practice, draw conclusions and build on them using a thematic approach and expertise;
  • Disseminate and transfer good practice and lessons learned from exchanges to all European cities; 
  • Assist city policy-makers, practitioners and managers of operational programmes to define local action plans with direct impact on the local urban development practices and policies.

2. Expected impact of the investment

In total, the URBACT II programme will support 46 Thematic Networks and 14 Working Groups. These will all contribute to improving the effectiveness of urban development policies and to strengthen the shared concept of integrated and sustainable urban development.

To increase the local impact and exemplary nature of exchanges, each project partner has to develop a Local Action Plan, developed with the help of a Local Support Group. Thematic Poles are set up to facilitate discussion and knowledge-sharing activities among the different Thematic Networks and Working Groups. This ensures that URBACT II can derive maximum benefit from the knowledge and experience available. To enable better communication between URBACT and local bodies, National Dissemination Points are established in various Member States.

URBACT II is also an important vehicle for the Regions for Economic Change initiative. One of the key elements of the initiative is to connect the URBACT II projects to relevant regional or national Structural Funds' Operational Programmes. The envisaged strong links between the city administrations and the Managing Authorities can thereby work to mutual benefit: Managing Authorities benefit from better prepared project applications and cities have the bonus of directly communicating and interacting with the funding authorities in charge. A ‘Fast Track' label is given by the European Commission to those URBACT networks, which:

  • intend to make a vital contribution to one of the priority themes of the Regions for Economic Change initiative;
  • have indicated their interest in working closely with the Managing Authorities and Commission services, and;
  • match a series of criteria established by the European Commission.

3. Priority

The URBACT II programme focuses on the following priorities for cooperation:

Priority 1: Cities, Engines of Growth and Jobs [approximately 44% of total ERDF funding]

The following main sub-themes:

  • Promoting Entrepreneurship;
  • Improving Innovation and Knowledge Economy;
  • Employment and Human Capital (employability, qualification, access to labour market, education and training systems, job creation especially for disadvantaged groups and areas).

Priority 2: Attractive and Cohesive Cities [approximately 50% of total ERDF funding]

The following main sub-themes are covered:

  •  Integrated development of deprived areas and areas at risk of deprivation – brownfield sites, inner cities, peripheral deprived areas;
  •  Social integration: housing, managing immigration, young people, health, security, ICT, culture;
  •  Environmental issues: waste, improving monitoring of the environment, improving air quality; water quality and supply; renewable energies, integrated transport policies, moving to a recycling society;
  • Governance and Urban Planning: urban planning, multi-level government, citizens’ participation, territorial governance (horizontal and vertical).

Priority 3: Technical Assistance [6% of total ERDF funding]

Technical Assistance is available to ensure the efficient and effective management of the URBACT II programme. It is mainly entrusted to the URBACT Secretariat by the Managing Authority of the programme.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'URBACT II'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision

C (2007) 4454 final

Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Cities, Engines of Growth and Jobs 23 462 849 5 420 144 28 882 993
Attractive and Cohesive Cities 26 657 170 6 454 108 33 111 278
Technical assistance 3 199 151 2 624 453 5 823 604
Total 53 319 170 14 498 705 67 817 875