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IP/02/139

Brussels, 25 January 2002

Urban II programme: European Union contributes EUR 5.3 million to urban regeneration in Helsinki-Vantaa (Finland)

Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy, has announced the approval by the European Commission of a programme for urban regeneration in Helsinki-Vantaa. This URBAN(1) Community Initiative Programme will provide € 5.3 million from the European Union over the period 2000-2006. The European funding has attracted € 15 million in further investment from the public sector and € 2.2 million from the private sector, creating total resources of € 22.5 million. Priorities will include training, improvements of the business environment and various measures to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups, particularly into the labour market.

Announcing the decision, Michel BARNIER said: "The URBAN initiative is a creative and innovative approach to urban regeneration. These programmes have a strong "grassroots" emphasis, involving local people at all stages in the decision making process. The programme for Helsinki-Vantaa is no exception. It mobilises a strong local partnership and I fully endorse the programme priorities of social inclusion, training and renewing the business infrastructure. I am confident that this programme will make a substantial contribution to urban regeneration in Helsinki-Vantaa."

The programme area relates to the eastern part of the Greater Helsinki metropolitan district. The selected area covers a population of 45,000 inhabitants (30,000 in Helsinki and 15,000 in Vantaa). The area is threatened by long-term unemployment, reliance on welfare benefits, illness and crime. The area also has the highest number of ethnic minorities in Greater Helsinki. On the other hand, there are extensive recreational possibilities with a lot of nature and green spaces in the area, a well organised public transport system, a strong sense of community and a considerable amount of affordable housing.

The programme aims to tackle this situation by two main priorities:

  • Business and employment. Key actions aim at improving the level of services and diversity of the area, safeguarding existing jobs and creating new ones. (Community contribution: € 1.5 million).

  • Supporting citizens' participation and promoting social inclusion. Key actions include the promotion of community participation and capacity building as well as support for families in difficulties, drug users and for the long-term unemployed and immigrants with health problems (Community contribution: € 3.3 million).

An additional amount of € 0.5 million (Community contribution) 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 and this will attract at least as much again in matched funding from both public and private sectors.

The Helsinki-Vantaa programme is the sole URBAN II programme in Finland for the period of 2000-2006.

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 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.

Managing Authority

The Managing Authority of the programme is the City of Helsinki. Day-to-day management is delegated to:

URBAN Helsinki-Vantaa (Mrs Eeva-Liisa Broman / Mrs Saila Lehkonen)

City Planning Department

Kansakoulukatu 3

00100 Helsinki

Finland

Phone:  +358-9-169 3352

Fax:  +358-9-169 4390

E-mail: eeva-liisa.broman@hel.fi

Further information

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

European Commission :

http://www.inforegio.ec.europa.eu/wbpro/PRORD/prordc/prordc18_en.htm

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


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