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URBACT: "We will carry forward the Urban Acquis, even if it is not in the EU Budget!" [EN]

urbactkleintrsp.gifAn extremely important comment appeared this June 14 2006 on the URBACT website. Mathilde Auvillain resumes the results of the Stockholm and Barcelona European Urban Conferences. She has to conclude:

The URBAN experience will not be renewed over the forthcoming programming period. The conference consequently emphasized the need to share experiences, something that will be of vital importance if the acquis URBAN are to be preserved.


This leaves the cities alone. The European input via the URBAN programmes of the nineties and early zeros was not merely another co-finance for projects that would have been executed by countries and local authorities, anyhow. It was much more. It created innovation, new approaches, as was explained by the Rouen alderwomen Cahierre in Barcelona:


When presenting the successful Urban project carried out in her city, Agathe Cahierre highlighted the contribution Europe makes when defining urban policies: "In Le Havre, Europe was a starting point, and not simply an augmentation force as is so often the case". She then went on to say that Europe’s involvement had allowed the city to renew its approach to urban regeneration: "Europe, for example, helped to make people more aware of the notion of sustainable development or equal opportunities". These are the acquis that the First Deputy Mayor, who is also President of the Urban France network, would like to see preserved.



But, how to do this now? The only way, URBACT says, is:


"More diffusion, more capitalization"


Remembering the enormous problems cities from the newly acceded countries have, to get the money, the instruments and the contacts that would allow them to live up to the standards of the European Urban Acquis, we may get an idea, how difficult it will be, to provide for the support they need. To defend the qualities of the Urban Acquis and to disseminate it to regions and cities where it still has to become part of current regeneration projects, URBACT is right, to see itself as the central vehicle, in the shape of "URBACT II" to bring this about. Ingrid Helander said in Barcelona: 


It is quite possible for the Urban method to survive and even for it to be strengthened, but this time it will be in the hands of national and regional authorities", "what’s needed is more diffusion and more capitalizationin Europe, there is enormous potential for sharing experiences and best practices. This potential must be harvested to help bring true European added value to urban development".



The new financing tools that are part of the new EU budget, demand a much subtler and more economy-driven programming from the local authorities:


The finishing touch for the forthcoming programming period: the new financing tools. "To create an active urban policy, we need to combine the different sources of financing: structural funds and financial instruments" explained the Commissioner. The Jaspers, Jeremie and Jessica tools were created with this in mind, in partnership with the EIB and the Council of Europe’s Investment Bank. "Our desire was to transform ERDF credits into reimbursable and recyclable instruments" explained Ronald Hall, the Director responsible for designing and reforming the cohesion policy at the DG Regio.


And, as the French version of the URBACT text states:


Si l’intention semble formelle, peu d’éléments nouveaux ont été apportés sur les modalités de la mise en œuvre d’Urbact II ni sur les moyens qui lui seront alloués.  [Translation: "Even if the intentions are undoubtedly good, few new elements have been put forward for the way in which URBACT II could work. Nor has has anything been said about the financial instruments it would get."]

In our opinion, it is urgent, that cities, regions and national governments, as well as the European Parliament will be alerted now, in order to help provide for this kind of minimal survival line for the urban Acquis, via URBACT, the ASC and EUKN!

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