Cities must change and become greener: this is the starting point for the European Urban Initiative (EUI) which was launched this Thursday in Turin, Italy, by the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira. The idea is to support common knowledge about the best solutions and finance sustainable transition projects in cities.
At the opening of the European Union (EU) Cities Forum, Elisa Ferreira highlighted that European cities today face new challenges, such as “pollution, unemployment or migration”, and that there is now “an opportunity for cities to access funds for innovative projects directly”. The idea is that at least 8% of the European regional development fund (ERDF) will go directly to supporting projects in European cities.
With funding of 450 million euros in the community framework that runs until 2027, this new mechanism replaces the previous “Urban Innovative Actions”, which supported 86 projects between 2014 and 2020, two of them in Portugal: “Voxpop Lisboa”, in a idea of creating projects to transform the city in a participatory and digital way, or the “Aveiro Steam City”, which wants to train and qualify human resources in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics and support the digital transformation of companies.
O “voxpop lisbon” is allowing Lisbon City Council to implement projects submitted by citizens. An example of this is the idea submitted by the Associação para a Mobilidade em Bicicleta (MUBI), which advocated the creation of a platform to record incidents on cycling infrastructure and “road harassment”, or proposals for the use of open data to improve knowledge about public transport or the city’s pedestrian network. The test day for these solutions is scheduled for July 2023.
The first call for projects of the new European Urban Initiative was launched last October and 99 applications were received. Portugal and France were among the countries that submitted the most applications to the first phase of the process, with eight submissions. Only surpassed by Spain, with 17, and Italy, with 11. The final selection of the candidacies presented in the first phase will be made in June. At this time, the projects and applications presented are not yet known.
The premonitory explanation for the success of the program can be found in the answers that the participants in the Cities Forum – many of them political leaders of cities and regions of the European Union – gave to the question raised in the opening session of the event: how does the European Urban Initiative can make a difference in your city? Most responses pointed to the possibility of funding and inspiration for new projects.
A second phase of applications is scheduled for May 2023, with 120 million euros to finance projects in the area of sustainable tourism and the “profitability of talent”.
The journalist traveled at the invitation of the European Commission.