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Brussels, 27 September 2001

Urban II programme : EU contributes EURO 12 million to urban development in Heerlen in the Netherlands

The European Commission has approved a programme for urban regeneration in Heerlen. This URBAN(1) Community Initiative Programme will provide € 12 million from the European Union over the period 2001-2006. The European funding has attracted a further € 20 million in investment from the public sector, creating total resources of € 32 million. Priorities will include training, improvements to the physical environment and various measures to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups, particularly in the labour market.

Announcing the decision, Michel Barnier, Member of the European Commission responsible for regional policy, said: "URBAN programmes provide a creative and innovative approach to urban regeneration. They also have a strong "grassroots" emphasis, involving local people at all stages in the decision making process. This programme is no exception, mobilising a strong local partnership and I fully endorse the programme priorities of social inclusion, training and renewing the business infrastructure and the physical environment. I am confident that this programme will make a substantial contribution to urban regeneration in Heerlen."

The programme area covers six neighbourhoods(2) on the North and East side of Heerlen with a population of 43,806. The area is struggling with high long-term unemployment, crime, poverty, a high number of drug addicts and homeless people, soil pollution and decaying buildings and public spaces. On the other hand, the area is strategically located in the heart of an urban network close to Aachen and Maastricht, has a history of strong neighbourhood involvement and an economy with significant growth potential.

The programme aims to tackle these problems with three main priorities:

    Improving the physical business environment

Key actions include developing and renovating business space, improving public space and the access to public transport (Funding available: € 17 million).

    Stimulating economic activity

Key actions include promoting "entrepreneurship", enhancing shopping areas and providing training (Funding available: € 8 million).

    Enhancing the socio-economic potential

Key actions aim at improving social participation, increasing safety and addressing problems caused by drug addicts and homeless people (Funding available: € 5 million).

An additional amount of € 2 million will finance technical assistance.

As with all URBAN programmes, this programme will be funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the responsibility of Mr Barnier.


The goal of the URBAN Community Initiative is "economic and social regeneration of cities and of neighbourhoods in crisis in order to promote sustainable urban development". The second round of URBAN ("URBAN II") will cover the period 2001-2006, supporting 70 deprived urban areas across the EU. Total funding from the EU alone will be € 728,3 million(3) and this will attract at least as much again in match funding from both public and private sectors.

A particular feature of URBAN II is the development of innovative models for urban regeneration. Another feature is a strong emphasis on partnership and on involving local actors. There will also be an exchange of information and experience on sustainable urban development across the European Union.

URBAN II is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Funding is available for initiatives such as the renovation of buildings and public space, local employment initiatives, the improvement of education and training systems for disadvantaged groups, the development of environmentally friendly public transport systems, the introduction of more efficient energy management systems and the use of renewable energy, developing the potential created by information society technologies.

The Commission adopts programmes which are proposed by a partnership including local and community groups. These programmes run for the whole of the period 2001-2006 and local actors are involved at all stages in this process.

Managing Authority

The city council of Heerlen is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Heerlen programme:

Gemeente Heerlen

College van B&W

Postbus 1

6400 AA Heerlen

Phone: + 31 (0) 45 5604202

Fax:  + 31 (0) 45 5604494


Further information can be found at :

European Commission :

The city of Heerlen:

Memo/01/301 of 25 September 2001.

(1) See below for a description of URBAN II.

(2) Stad-Oost, Stad-Noord, Heerlerheide-Passart, Vrieheide-De Stack, Rennemig-Beersdal and Hoensbroek-De Hem

(3) 2001 prices

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