20 years of support for urban development

The European Commission is organising a conference on 4 February in Brussels to mark 20 years of EU support for urban development. This will provide an opportunity to review the experience acquired since the launch of the URBAN initiative’s first pilot projects in 1989. The cohesion policy will invest a total of €10 billion in the period 2007-2013 in urban development throughout Europe.

Urban areas host today over 70 percent of Europeans. By their very nature, conurbations are places where people meet; businesses thrive; ideas develop, gain momentum and are exchanged. Cities, or clusters of them, most often are the social, economic and cultural hearts of the surrounding region or even their whole countries.

Since 1989, the European Commission has endeavoured to support urban development while promoting inclusion and regeneration: using the untapped potential of the cities for the benefits of citizens throughout a growing EU. An initially timid support has greatly evolved and diversified, and today the urban dimension is a recognised element of Cohesion policy, with in excess of €10 billion allocated to urban priorities in the funded programmes.

More importantly, the "urban acquis" - which has been fine-tuned over time - and its world-class integrated, participative approach are being increasingly placed at the core of urban actions. Exchange programmes among cities have also proved tremendously successful – both in terms of popularity with the local practitioners and for the knowledge cities have collectively produced.

The conference, entitled “Promoting Sustainable Urban Development in Europe - Achievements and Opportunities”, will review the urban development policy over the last 20 years, and will take place in Brussels on 4 February.