The Urban Development Network

The Urban Development Network is made up of more than 500 cities/urban areas across the EU responsible for implementing integrated actions based on Sustainable Urban Development strategies financed by ERDF in the 2014-2020 period.

The Network's mission is to:

  1. Review how European funds are implemented on the ground in Europe's cities
  2. Support information exchange between cities involved in integrated Sustainable Urban Development (Art 7) and in Urban Innovative Actions (Art 8)
  3. Promote direct dialogue between the Commission and cities on Sustainable Urban Development

Sustainable Urban Development (Art 7)

In each EU Member State, a minimum 5 % of the ERDF must be invested in integrated Sustainable Urban Development with deployment decided and directed by urban authorities.

Three different arrangements for Article 7 can be used within the operational programmes:

  1. A specific priority axis of an operational programme dedicated to Sustainable Urban Development
  2. A specific operational programme dedicated to Sustainable Urban Development
  3. Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI): a certain part of the financial allocation of one or more priority axes of one or more operational programme can be implemented through ITIs

Urban Innovative Actions (Art 8)

Cities need to do more with less, responding to growing challenges but with lower budgets. This calls for innovative approaches. The Urban Innovative Actions initiative has been created to identify and test new approaches to the challenges faced by cities (through pilot projects).

A total of EUR 371 million is earmarked for 'innovative actions' in the field of Sustainable Urban Development over a seven-year period.

The aim is to generate knowledge of what works and what does not and why, what should be done differently, etc. Projects are selected through calls for proposals with an ERDF contribution not exceeding EUR 5 million per project, a unique co-financing rate of maximum 80%, and maximum three-year duration. The topics of the calls are defined annually by the Commission. The management of Urban Innovative Actions is delegated to the Nord-Pas de Calais Region in France.

More Information : Urban Innovative Actions

Priorities for 2014-2020

The priorities outlined for UDN during the period 2014-2020 are to:

    1. Help cities to implement Article 7 and 8 correctly and realise the full potential of these measures
    2. Develop and promote an integrated approach to urban development, including the exchange of experience and knowledge (i.e. URBACT), mainstreaming innovative approaches to urban development (i.e. Urban Innovative Actions) and state-of-the-art thematic input to address urban challenges
    3. Create a platform of two-way knowledge exchange among cities and foster capacity building
    4. Facilitate dialogue between cities, managing authorities, Member States and the European Commission in line with a "client-driven approach" on political, technical and communication issues (i.e. development of good practices, stories)

Improving how ERDF funds is invested in cities

The aim is to gain insight and improve ERDF implementation in the area of urban and territorial development. This is achieved by reviewing how European funds are deployed on the ground, and by supporting the exchange of experience between cities involved in integrated Sustainable Urban Development (Art 7) and Urban Innovative Actions (Art 8). The Network helps to identify the critical success factors and conditions for better, smarter urban development strategies which also complement existing tools, mechanisms, instruments and platforms used by the Commission and Member States.

List of activities

  • Conferences: Regular European networking conferences specifically addressing the implementation of ERDF Articles 7 and 8 or wider policy issues.
  • Workshops: These workshops take place in Brussels and also on a regional/national basis. Workshops can be organised on general integrated urban development topics or thematically i.e. energy efficiency, demographic challenges, social inclusion, project management, partnership working, etc.
  • Study visits: These on-site visits (potentially combined with the workshops) help to disseminate expert knowledge and have strong added-value in terms of peer learning. This could be developed using the already established TAIEX/REGIO peer-to-peer tool.

Is my city covered?

Cities (urban areas) receiving ERDF funding under Article 7 or Article 8 may join the Network. Participation in the UDN is voluntary. It is the first formal REGIO platform where cities can interact directly with the Commission (i.e. not through intermediaries).

For certain events, and with a view to enlarge the exchange of experience, the Commission may decide to invite other stakeholders where relevant.

Ties with the EU Urban Agenda

Real change on the ground calls for the active engagement and ownership of cities, and the effective use of EU, national, regional and local resources. This concerns all European cities and especially those receiving funding under Article 7. Some EUR 15 billion of the ERDF is set aside for integrated urban development strategies which cities design themselves and have control over the selection of projects.

There is a clear need for the Commission to maintain dialogue with these cities as their choices directly impact the success of a considerable portion of the ERDF. UDN gives a voice to these cities and, in turn, helps the Commission develop better policies taking into account a wider cross-section of initiatives in the framework of its Europe 2020 objectives.

Ties with URBACT

UDN complements the work undertaken by URBACT III, working together to support cities implementing Article 7 – an integrated approach to Sustainable Urban Development. The experience and expertise gained through URBACT thus feeds into UDN. There is no direct overlap between UDN and URBACT, as URBACT is supporting its own projects (consisting of networks of 7-10 cities working together on a specific theme) for capacity building. The two initiatives are mutually reinforcing.


  • €15 billion of the ERDF will be dedicated to sustainable urban development (Art 7 ERDF)
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  • The six largest cities in Finland test pilot and innovative solutions to common urban challenges. Watch the video’s to learn from their original solutions.

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