Frank Lee, Head of Financial Instruments Advisory Division from the European Investment Bank, made the presentation “What next after JESSICA? The urban dimension of financial instruments in 2014-2020“. At the beginning of the meeting some reasons of using FI was underlined which are: a more efficient use of public sector resources, especially for revenue generation or cost saving projects; good leverage potential, also through recycling of funds; added financial discipline into the project; possibility of combining them with technical support and/or capital grants to overcome market barriers. In reference to the last point, it has been stressed that particularly in the urban environment there is a need to combine grants with FI and the balance between both is very important.
During the presentation JESSICA initiative was summed up as well as different urban models of using FI in the 2007-2013 financial perspective. Lithuanian case study was highlighted in which combination of loans and grants let renovate multi-apartment buildings. Moreover, Northwest England case study showed how 16 local authorities run Urban Development Fund which provides debt funding for urban regeneration projects. During the debate, MEPs agreed that the FI must be tailored into the local needs. In conclusion, Jan Olbrycht, President of the URBAN Intergroup, underlined that ex-ante conditionality is the way to choose best instrument for concrete challenge and that in general there is a growing debate about the financial instruments inside the cohesion policy.
Last meeting of the URBAN Intergroup, which took place on Thursday February 4th at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, was dedicated to the biennial European Union Prize for contemporary architecture/Mies van der Rohe Awards.
This Prize was created in 1988 jointly by the European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation in Barcelona and is currently supported by Creative Europe Programme. It is the most prestigious architecture prize for finished constructions in Europe.
The presentation of EU Prize for contemporary architecture and its potential contribution to EU policies was made by Monica Urian, European Commission, DG Education and Culture, Creative Europe Programme. At the beginning of the meeting a trailer showed the reflection of architects across Europe about a European Identity in architecture. Afterwards, a big development of the Prize has been presented since its creation. The role of the unique archive with all nominated projects was underlined as well as the whole organizational network. During the discussion MEPs particular appreciated collected data base on contemporary architectural trends and analyses made which shows among others typologies of recently constructed buildings in Europe. In conclusion, participants of the meeting discussed how to further developed this unique EU Prize and link it to the policy making.
In 2015 Prize edition 420 nominated projects were selected from which the Jury members shortlisted 40 of them. Five finalist works competed for the Prize and one Emerginng Architect was chosen. The winner of 2015 edition is Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, in Poland.
URBAN Intergroup met at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday January 21st to discuss the topic of urban mobility. Karima Delli, vice-president of the URBAN Intergroup and European Parliament rapporteur of the INI report, presented the key points of the EP resolution on sustainable urban mobility adopted in plenary on the 2nd of December 2015.
At the beginning of the presentation, Ms Delli underlined that there is a social and climate emergency linked with and to be dealt by the transport sector. She presented some of the problems related to transport such as pollution and road accidents. Every year, about 430,000 Europeans die prematurely due to fine particles mainly emitted by diesel engines. Nearly 42,000 deaths are also caused by road accidents every year in Europe, with an estimated cost of €45 billion.
The EP resolution emphasised the importance of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in achieving EU targets regarding the CO2 emissions, air pollution and accident reduction. It calls Member States to promote public transport with the view to increase its use by 2030, to support the development of innovative forms of mobility and to set up ambitious targets for cycling rates by 2030.
Karima Delli pointed out the current problem of the ‘use of revenues’ principle with regard to road charging. She called for a proportion of revenue from the use of road infrastructure (road charging and/or Eurovignette) to be dedicated to improving sustainable urban mobility.
During the discussion, MEPs noticed that the urban mobility was one of the 12 thematic objectives of the EU Urban Agenda. They also stressed that the work of the future partnership should take on board the European Parliament position on sustainable urban mobility. Moreover, participants agreed that one of the first pilot partnerships dedicated to air quality should take on board the issue of transport and mobility.
URBAN Intergroup’s members and partners met on Thursday November 26th at the European Parliament in Strasbourg with Nicolaas Beets, Dutch Urban Envoy. Mr Beets presented priorities of the upcoming Dutch presidency in the field of urban development. He explained that the goals for the Dutch EU presidency will be to launch the EU Urban Agenda by endorsing the Pact of Amsterdam, launching first partnerships and adopting Council conclusions on the EU Urban Agenda. During the presentation, a list of 12 themes of the EU Urban Agenda has been presented as well as the working method -partnerships. Mr Beets confirmed that 4 themes – and not 3 as previously confirmed by the European Commission – will be implemented as “pilot” partnerships. Those are: housing, inclusion of migrants and refugees, urban poverty and air quality (as the new one). MEPs raised questions concerning practical issues how to join the partnerships and on the possible role of the European Parliament in the whole process of the EU Urban Agenda.
During the last meeting of the URBAN Intergroup, which took place on Thursday October 29th at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the representative of the European Commission presented the state of play of the EU Urban Agenda.
The aims of the EU Urban Agenda are to involve cities in the design of the policies at EU and national level as well as to mobilise them in the implementation of the European and national policies. In this context, the work will focus on 12 key Priority Themes: jobs and skills in the local economy, urban poverty, housing, inclusion of migrants and refugees, sustainable use of land and Nature-Based solutions, circular economy, climate adaptation, energy transition, urban mobility, air quality, digital transition and finally innovative and responsible public procurement. Those themes have been selected during the consultation process and are broadly supported by Member States, cities and the European Commission. What is more, they address the major challenges faced actually by the cities and require integrated actions at different levels. Each Priority Theme will be cover by Partnership which will prepare and implement an Action Plan in the 3 years’ timeframe. The aim of the Partnership is to develop a multilevel and multi-dimensional approach. Partnership will be composed by around 15 members representing the European Commission, Member States, cities, NGOs and experts and will have 2 coordinators. During the meeting the European Commission confirmed that the first 3 Partnerships will start this year and will focus on housing, inclusion of migrants and refugees and urban poverty.