Urban development in EU programmes

EU Member States cooperate in many areas of urban policy. Cooperation and programmes at EU level cover such themes as sustainable urban development in the cohesion policy, development of urban networks and knowledge exchange, support for innovative urban development and strengthening of urban research and information at EU level. 

The Member States and the European Commission have reinforced urban policy through the Urban Agenda for the EU, adopted by the EU ministers responsible for urban matters in Amsterdam during the Austrian Presidency in 2016.

The Urban Agenda for the EU aims to achieve closer cooperation between the Member States, the Commission, cities and other actors to develop urban regions. It is an integrated and coordinated approach to develop new ideas and ways to develop EU legislation, politicians and financing instruments to better meet urban needs and to introduce more efficient exchange of knowledge in selected urban development themes.

There are 14 dedicated Partnerships focusing on concrete urban development themes. The Agenda’s new term will include 4 new themes. Finnish partners (cities or ministries) are involved in several Partnerships. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, together with the Ministry of the Environment, is responsible for the networking of Finnish partners and for national communications regarding the Urban Agenda for the EU.

The EU’s URBACT programme aims to encourage cities to share their positive development experiences, learn from each other and reinforce their development expertise. URBACT is designed to enable cities to participate in networks of other European cities. It is one of the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes. The national contact point for URBACT in Finland is Spatia Centre for Regional Research.

EU funding for sustainable urban development strengthens broad-based innovation activities of Finnish cities by supporting the ecosystem agreements. In all, 16 urban regions and the central government have signed ecosystem agreements. The agreements develop city-led solutions that are based on a low-carbon and resource-wise use of digitalisation and technological change. At the same time, they promote the renewal of business and the building of a sustainable city. The measures are divided into green transition, digitalisation, and wellbeing and health.

Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) is an initiative of the European Commission that provides funding for European cities so that they can experiment with and develop innovative solutions for urban challenges. Several Finnish cities have participated in the initiative with their projects. For the programming period 2021–27, the initiative will continue under the name European Urban Initiative.

Further information: olli.voutilainen(at)gov.fi