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IP/02/81

Brussels, 17 January 2002

Urban II programme: European Union contributes Euro 15.1 million to urban regeneration in Taranto, Italy

Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy, has announced the approval by the European Commission of a programme for urban regeneration in Taranto, Italy. This URBAN(1) Community Initiative Programme will provide € 15.1 million from the European Union over the period 2000-2006. The European funding has attracted € 16.6 million in further investment from the public sector and € 7 million from the private sector, creating total resources of € 38.7 million. Priorities will include training, improvements of the physical and the business environment and various measures to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups, particularly into the labour market.

Announcing the decision, Michel BARNIER said: "URBAN programmes are characterised by their 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 Taranto 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 and the physical environment. I am confident that this programme will make a substantial contribution to urban regeneration in Taranto."

The programme covers a surface area of 509 ha with 47,400 inhabitants along the two sides of the gulf near Taranto and including the island opposite. Due to the geographical layout of the city, the urban transport sector is causing increasing problems for the environment and urban mobility. One side of the gulf is characterised by workers' neighbourhoods (Porta Napoli and Tamburi) close to the iron and steel industry. On the other side of the gulf there is a 19th century, degraded neighbourhood (Borgo) where most of the service industry was located. These neighbourhoods are confronted with long term unemployment, a high crime rate, poverty, air and soil pollution and a high concentration of elderly people and immigrants. However, thanks to the area's location, it could be re-created as the "main entrance to the city" with an attractive natural environment and specialised functions.

The historical centre of Taranto (città vecchia, first settlement of 700 BC located on the island) was abandoned after the Second World War. 70% of its buildings have static stability problems. The challenge is to rehabilitate the historical centre.

The programme focuses on the following priorities:

Multiple land use and sustainable redevelopment: The focus here is on rehabilitation of buildings and open spaces of historical importance as well as training for the restoration of historic buildings (Community contribution: € 8.2 million).

Entrepreneurship, employment pacts and economic development: Support and creation of small and medium-sized enterprises, improving the tourism and trade sectors, helping disadvantaged groups back into the labour market, integrated training and services to develop the information society will receive funding under this priority (Community contribution: € 4 million).

Environmentally friendly, integrated public transport systems: Projects concern public transport development, the creation of environmental corridors, biking and pedestrian networks, maritime mobility and the development of the harbour site (Community contribution: € 1 million).

Improving the environment: Funding is available for the rehabilitation of urban green areas and the promotion of renewable and efficient energy use (Community contribution: € 0.9 million).

An additional amount of € 1 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 total URBAN allocation for Italy amounts to € 114.8 million. Programmes have been submitted for Torino, Milan, Genoa, Carrara, Pescara, Caserta, Taranto, Mola di Bari, Crotone and Misterbianco.

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 for the Taranto URBAN II Programme is the Town Council of Taranto:

Comune di Taranto

Gabinetto del Sindaco

Mr Antonio Liscio

Palazzo di Città

Taranto

Phone: +39 (0) 99 4581981

Phone: +39 (0) 99 4581981; (0) 99 4581546

Fax. +39 (0) 99 4581414

E-mail: riscitvecchia@libero.it

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 websites:

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

Government Office: http://www.infrastrutturetrasporti.it

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


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