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IP/01/1590

Bruxelles, 15 November 2001

Urban II programme : EU contributes EUR 7 million to urban development in Antwerp

Michel Barnier, member of the European Commission responsible for regional policy announced today in Antwerp that the European Commission has approved a programme for urban regeneration. This URBAN(1) Community Initiative Programme will provide € 7.1 million from the European Union over the period 2001-2006. The European funding has attracted € 15.7 million in further investment from the public sector, creating total resources of € 22.8 million. Priorities will include training, improvements of the physical environment and various measures to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups, particularly into the labour market.

Announcing the decision, Michel BARNIER 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 Antwerp."

The programme area covers neighbourhoods in two boroughs(2) south of the centre of Antwerp with a population of 44,667. The area is threatened by a bad reputation, derelict industrial sites, housing of poor quality and shopping streets in decline. Some neighbourhoods have very high concentrations of unemployed, elderly, immigrants and households dependent on welfare. On the other hand, the area is easily accessible by public transport and close to the centre. It has a considerable amount of green spaces, a number of large enterprises and a young and multi-ethnic population.

The programme aims to tackle the situation by three main priorities:

    Economic regeneration and job creation

Key actions will create opportunities for environmental and information and communication technologies enterprises, regenerate shopping streets and provide training in environmental and new technologies skills, targeting recent immigrants and long-term unemployed women (funding available: € 9.4 million).

    Transforming the riverfront into a functional urban area

Key actions include creating more green spaces for tourists and residents alike, safe guarding architecturally significant buildings and protecting biodiversity (funding available: € 7 million).

    Improving accessibility by innovative transport solutions

Key actions aim at creating multimodal transport nodes, expanding the recreational transport network, building a cycle network and facilitating the access to the internet (funding available: € 4.7 million).

An additional amount of € 1.7 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.

URBAN

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 2000-2006, 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 matched 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 2000-2006 and local actors are involved at all stages in this process.

Managing Authority

The managing authority of the programme is the Antwerp Council. Day-to-day management is delegated to:

Hugo Hermans, EU-programmacoördinator

SOMA vzw

Grote Markt 27

B - 2000 Antwerpen

Phone: +32 3 470 23 69

Fax:  +32 3 270 03 59

E-mail: hugo.hermans@somavzw.be

Further information

Further information on the URBAN II programme can be found in MEMO/01/301 of 25 September 2001 and at the following websites:

European Commission : http://www.inforegio.ec.europa.eu/urban/

The City of Antwerp : http://www.antwerpen.beStadsontwikkelingsmaatschappij Antwerpen (SOMA) : http://www.somavzw.be

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

(2) Kiel and Hoboken

(3) 2001 prices


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