The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning

Research Project: The urban dimension in German Structural Funds Programmes

Project briefing

This study revealed the quality and quantity with which Germany made use of Article 8 of the ERDF Regulation as an offer of financial assistance. It also illustrated the general consideration of urban concerns in Germany’s National Strategic Reference Framework and the German Structural Funds Programmes as well as the range of the urban dimension at the project level. The findings of this analysis were used to draw up recommendations on ways of establishing "Acquis URBAN" in the coming funding period which could be considered in the already intensive negotiations concerning the design of the post-2013 Structural Funds.

Current Situation

Spatial structural policy enjoys high priority in the EU, as demonstrated by the fact that some 35% of the 2010 EU budget was devoted to the European Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund. These funds were used to promote actions aimed at reducing regional disparities, boosting regional competitiveness and employment, and intensifying European territorial cooperation. The interventions of this European structural policy, which initially appears to be closely related to the scale of the region, were highly relevant for cities solely by virtue of the fact that about 60% of the population of the EU live in medium-sized cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants. In addition, the EU member states' main economic power was rooted in their urban agglomeration areas – for cities with a population exceeding 1 million have a 40% higher GDP than the average of their respective countries.

The European Union had recognised the importance of cities and placed urban concerns at the focus of Community policy. For example, the Strategic Cohesion Guidelines list a number of political aims in urban areas, such as strengthening cities in their role as engines of regional development and centres of innovation, encouraging more polycentric regional development, and the balanced development of cities and conurbations. Other aspects specifically mentioned include employment and training policy, integration and cultural measures, environmental clean-up of the physical world, the recovery of brownfield land, and the preservation and development of the historical and cultural heritage.

The concrete enshrinement of the integrated approach mainly took place by translating Article 8 into the ERDF Framework Regulation, under which a region "may, where appropriate, support the development of participative, integrated and sustainable strategies to tackle the high concentration of economic, environmental and social problems affecting urban areas." Article 8 recommended drawing up and implementing strategies to strengthen economic growth, rehabilitate the physical environment, redevelop brownfield sites, preserve and develop the natural and cultural heritage, promote entrepreneurship, local employment and community development, and provide services to the population.

Objectives and Subject Matter of the Research Project

This study revealed the quality and quantity with which Germany made use of Article 8 as an offer of financial assistance. It also illustrated the general consideration of urban concerns in Germany’s National Strategic Reference Framework and the German Structural Funds Programmes as well as the range of the urban dimension at the project level. The findings of this analysis were used to draw up recommendations on ways of establishing ‘Acquis URBAN’ in the coming funding period which could be considered in the already intensive negotiations concerning the design of the post-2013 Structural Funds.

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