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Brussels, 24 January 2002

Urban II programme: European Union contributes EUR 7.95 million to urban regeneration in Iraklion, island of Crete, Greece

Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy, has announced the approval by the European Commission of a programme for urban regeneration in the Iraklion area on the island of Crete, Greece. This URBAN II(1) Community Initiative Programme will provide about € 7.95 million from the European Union over the period 2000-2006. The European funding has attracted about € 2.65 million from the public sector while approximately € 1.0 million are expected from the private sector, creating a total investment of about € 11.6 million. Programme priorities will include improving the quality of urban infrastructure and spatial planning, supporting the local economy, preventing social exclusion and supporting local inhabitants' networks.

Announcing the decision, Michel BARNIER said: "The URBAN Community Initiative is a creative and innovative approach to urban regeneration. These programmes have a strong "grassroots" emphasis, involving local people and organisations at all stages in the decision making process. The URBAN II programme for the city of Iraklion is no exception. It mobilises a strong local partnership and I fully endorse the programme's priorities for local development. I am confident that this programme will make a substantial contribution to urban regeneration in Iraklion."

The programme's interventions are located in the city's western coastal front in a zone of 140 hectares, with 20,000 inhabitants. The area is characterised by industrial activities and environmental degradation, long-term unemployment, poverty and exclusion. Problems include a low educational level of the residents, a lack of skills among young people, a high percentage of elderly, illegal immigrants and a low level of child care facilities.

The objectives set for the revival of the area are: to improve the urban environment and the quality of life, to stimulate new economic activities, e.g. by using advanced technologies, social inclusion, the improvement of the workforce's skills and equal opportunities for people excluded from the labour market.

The programme is developed on the basis of 3 priority axes:

  • Multifunctional development of urban areas environmental protection. The programme aims at transforming land use of the deprived industrial coastal front of the city of Iraklion. The zone will be transformed into an area of cultural activities and recreation (Community contribution: € 3.38 million).

  • Support of small businesses. Measures aim at establishing new businesses, modernising existing ones and job creation (Community contribution: € 0.75 million).

  • Training and equal opportunities. Measures and actions aim to improve the abilities of the labour force and to fight unemployment. The priority also includes additional actions that are required in order to strengthen social cohesion of groups that face social exclusion and isolation such as the elderly, women, and vulnerable social groups (Community contribution: € 3.3 million).

An additional amount of € 0.52 million (Community contribution) will finance technical assistance.


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 and this will attract at least as much again in matched funding from both public and private sectors.

The total URBAN II allocation for Greece amounts to € 25.5 million. Programmes have been submitted for Perama, Komotini and Iraklion.

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), which falls under the responsibility of Mr Barnier. Funding is available for initiatives such as the renovation of buildings and public spaces, 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.

Management Authority

Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works

Management Authority for URBAN II Community Initiative

87 Mihalakopoulou Street


Phone: +30 (0) 1 / 6433829

Fax: +30 (0) 1 / 6458690


Further information

More detailed information on URBAN II can be found in MEMO/01/301 of 25 September 2001 or at the following European Commission website:

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

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