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 in 2014-2020 (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 in 2014-2020 (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 in 2014-2020

  • 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 Urban Agenda for the EU

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.

UDN as part of the European Urban Initiative in 2021-2027

The activities of the Urban Development Network in 2021-2027 will form an integral part of the capacity building activities to be developed under the European Urban Initiative (EUI) (Article 12 of Regulation (EU) 2021/1058 on the European Regional Development Fund and on the Cohesion Fund).

The overall objectives of the EUI are (i) to strengthen integrated and participatory approaches to sustainable urban development, and (ii) to provide a stronger link to EU policies, and in particular to Cohesion policy. The initiative is aimed to offer coherent support to cities of all sizes, as well as functional urban areas, to overcome the current fragmented landscape of manifold initiatives, programmes and instruments in support of cities under Cohesion policy. It shall support the Urban Agenda of for the EU, and upon request from one or more Member State(s), the EUI may support the intergovernmental cooperation on urban matters.

The European Urban Initiative includes two strands: (a) support of innovative actions, and (b) support of capacity and knowledge building, territorial impact assessments, policy development and communication. The underlying principle is to create an effective value-chain to support innovation, cities’ capacity, and knowledge building, capitalisation as well as communication and dissemination for evidence-based policy making on sustainable urban development, involving the two strands (a) and (b).

The specific objectives of the capacity building activities are (i) to improve the capacities of cities in the design of sustainable urban development policies, strategies and practices in an integrated and participative way, and (ii) to improve the design and implementation of sustainable urban development policies, strategies and action plans in cities.

The capacity building activities will comprise events (country specific, cluster of Member States specific, or EU-wide) and peer learning activities, including both peer reviews (country specific, cluster of Member States specific) and city-to-city exchanges. The aim is to exchange knowledge, good practices and solutions among urban practitioners and to build a ‘capacity building community’ and a ‘space for exchange’ on sustainable urban development.

The future capacity building activities will be hosted on the EUI dedicated web-portal which is currently in the making.

More information on the EUI:


  • €15 billion of the ERDF will be dedicated to sustainable urban development (Art 7 ERDF)
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