European Local Regeneration Forums Exchange
The overall aim of this project funded by the 'Europe for Citizens' programme was to build on the foundations created by the pilot project European Residents in Regeneration Network (ERRN) and create mechanisms and resources which will further enhance citizen participation within the existing 5 Local Regeneration Forums.
This project is developed within the "Europe for citizens" programme framework, which sets the following global objectives to be developed through different instruments and actions:
a) give citizens the opportunity to interact and participate in constructing an ever closer Europe, united in and enriched through its cultural diversity;
b) forge a European identity, based on recognised common values, history and culture;
c) enhance mutual understanding between European citizens respecting and celebrating cultural diversity, while contributing to intercultural dialogue.
Given the above context in relation to urban regeneration and the importance of citizens participation in creating sustainable urban development which will help secure the goals of the Lisbon Strategy, this project's overall aim is to build on the foundations created by the pilot project European Residents in Regeneration Network (ERRN) and create mechanisms and resources which will further enhance citizen participation within the existing 5 Local Regeneration Forums.
To realise this, the project has the following specific objectives:
create online capacity building resources/materials to empower members of Local Regeneration Forums(LRF) to connect to EU policies and programmes;
deliver a capacity building programme for LRF members;
create video profiles of members of the Local Regeneration Forums in order to facilitate dialogue and discussion between members of different forums
undertake a pilot online facilitated discussion forum between members of the Local Regeneration Forums and members of the EP Intergroup on Urban Policy and Housing.
This project would seek to deliver the following outcomes:
- Creation of resources and materials that will have wide applicability to other LRFs ;
- Development of a common methodology for a capacity building programme for LRF members
- Creation of over 150 online profiles of LRF members which will incorporate use of multi media in order to facilitate intercultural dialogue
- First online discussion forum between members of LRFs and members of the EP Intergroup on Urban Policy and Housing.
- Deepening, in terms of usage and sophistication of the online platform created during the pilot project.
Project Legal Context
Citizen participation and urban regeneration are key mainstreaming issues in the agenda of the European Union for the next Cohesion Policy period 2007-2013. Over the past 15 years, these two themes have been reflected in a number of key programmes and decisions:
The Urban Programme (1994-2006) which has targeted sustainable economic development and regeneration in the most deprived urban areas of the EU.
The actions of the French, Dutch and UK presidencies which have established an inter-ministerial group on Urban Policy and created a common framework on sustainable communities and set urban issues high on the EU political agenda.
The Council Decision in January 2004 supporting bodies working in the field of active European Citizenship was established for a period of 2 years (2004-2006)
In the same way, Commission Communication in 2004 established the European Citizenship issue as a priority for the enlarged EU.
In this line, DG Education and Culture carried out a public consultation at the end of 2004 and beginning 2005. This consultation was made in two steps (an online consultation and a consultation forum), and the result was a clear evidence of the support for a new action programme to promote citizen involvement in EU policies and programmes.
More recently, the Bristol Accord in 2005 endorsed by the informal meeting of the Ministers responsible for Urban Policy stated that "Sustainable communities enjoy, representative, accountable governance systems which both facilitate strategic, visionary leadership and enable inclusive, active and effective participation in urban regeneration policies".
Following this policy context, the Commission presented a proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council in April 2005, establishing a programme called "Europe for citizens " for the promotion of an active European citizenship for the period 2007-2013, which would be approved afterwards by the EP under the name of "Europe for citizens".
Alongside, the EP has established an Intergroup on Urban Policy and Housing, which has held a number of sessions and several of these have focused on the need to improve connection and communication with locally based actors. QeC-ERAN has actively participated in the Intergroup by holding joint workshops.
After a long debate on the working paper Cohesion policy and cities, a Communication from the Commission to the Council and Parliament was published in July 2006, which highlights the need to support and develop more effective citizen participation in urban regeneration policies.
In the European Union over 60% of the population lives in urban areas of over 50 000inhabitants. Apart from the two mega-poles of London and Paris, Europe is characterised by a unique polycentric structure of large, midsize and small cities. However, population is a relative criteria and sustainable urban development within Cohesion Policy is not only about big cities. A small town in a sparsely populated area plays a significant role in the regional economy.
The European Union will be most successful in pursuing its growth and jobs agenda, if all regions are able to play their part. Cities are essential in this effort. They are the home of most jobs, businesses and higher education institutions and are key actors in achieving social cohesion. Cities are the centres of change, based on innovation, entrepreneurship and business growth.
This is why policy at the national and European level needs to have an urban dimension, in order to promote the exchange of experience and best practice; to help overcome the market failures that underlie urban unemployment and social exclusion. To bring forward new investment that helps the urban areas to realise their full potential.
Sustainable urban development integrates economic, social and environmental goals with good public services. Local partnerships including public, private, voluntary and community interests are essential to deliver these "sustainable communities" as referred to in the " Bristol Accord".
The "Bristol Accord" (2005) endorsed by the Informal meeting of Ministers responsible for Urban Policy specifically included 8 key aspects that needed to be addressed in creating sustainable Urban development. One of these related directly to effective citizen participation. The Accord stated:
"Sustainable communities enjoy:
- representative, accountable governance systems which both facilitate strategic, visionary leadership and enable inclusive, active and effective participation by individuals and organisations
- effective engagement with the community at neighbourhood level, including capacity building to develop the community's skills, knowledge and confidence
- strong, informed and effective partnerships that lead by example (e.g. government, business, community)
- strong, inclusive, community and voluntary sector
- sense of civic values, responsibility and pride".
Furthermore the post evaluation of the Urban programme 1994-1999 highlighted that the key factors affecting the success of implementation and management, in descending order of importance, were:
- Participation of the local community in aspects of project selection, management and implementation.
- Integrated and straightforward approaches to programme management and implementation.
- Strong partnerships and cooperation.
- Leadership in the day to day management and overall implementation of the programme.
- Capacity and experience
However, alongside such positive recognition of citizen participation, the European Union is currently facing a paradox: despite the successes and achievements of the European Union since its creation, European citizens seem to have developed a certain distance towards the European institutions and to have difficulties in identifying themselves within the process of European integration. The low level of participation in the last elections for the European Parliament is a recent illustration.
Citizen participation is a democratic imperative - the engagement of local residents and civil society in urban policy can give legitimacy and effectiveness to government actions. These actors bring local knowledge as well as specific talents. They are best placed to organise actions in the local context and to cross formal institutional boundaries by their personal knowledge of local issues and key players.
Women often play a crucial role in urban development. They are key social and cultural mediators, intervening between service-users and institutions such as hospitals, schools and local administrations. Whilst they are often well-represented in community groups and as drivers in projects related to integration into deprived neighbourhoods, they are sometimes underrepresented when it comes to decision-making positions. Similarly, youngpeople are a vital element in community action. Facilitating their active participation atlocal level is a key political priority and an element of good governance.
However, community involvement often requires a certain degree of "capacity building", where the public sector actively encourages, trains and facilitates actors from the community and voluntary sectors. Community and residents groups frequently lack the resources of more powerful partners and hence must be empowered and supported by those partners. One specific point is training and equipping voluntary groups in the formal skills necessary to play a full role in project delivery.
The European Commission has identified three different types of responses to this problem, which are to be implemented by different initiatives of the Commission. First, there is a need for better information of citizens about European institutions and better communication on European issues in general. Second, citizens need to be fully aware, and make full use, of their rights as citizens of the European Union, as described in Article 17 of the EC Treaty, and of their fundamental rights under the Charter on Fundamental rights. Third, citizens should also be aware of their duties as citizen and become actively involved in the process of European integration, developing a sense of belonging and a European identity.
Co-ordination of the project
The co-ordination team is QeC-ERAN, based in Brussels, as project co-ordinators they are responsible for the overall management and co-ordination of the project, including administration & financial management.
Tamara Hodas Garcia
Tel : +32 (0) 2 524 45 45
Fax : +32 (0) 2 524 44 31
Meetings and Workshops
First Project Steering Group Meeting, September 2007, Brussels.
The First Project Steering Group Meeting took place on the 17th-18th of September 2007.
As part of the capacity building and networking programme for the project participants, one member of each of the 5 local forums will attend the World Meeting on participatory democracy that will take place in Lyon, Grenoble, St Etienne an d Valence, on the 10th-12th December 2007.
For more info and registration on the World Meeting on Participatory Democracy click here
World Meeting on Participative Democracy, December 2007, Lyon.
The Rhône-Alpes Regional Council is organizing the World Meeting on the theme "Participatory democracy from the local to the global level : for what sort of development ?" on 10-11-12 December 2007.
This initiative sets out to highlight the infinite variety of experiences in participatory democracy throughout the world and discuss development issues.
Using the great diversity of experiences the world over, the idea is to start mapping out areas of convergence, a common meaning to all these experiences that are developing and taking root.
Since the event is being organized "jointly and in advance" with citizens, associations and local authorities, its content will gradually evolve and be enriched.
Second Project Steering Group Meeting
The Second Steering Group Meeting took place in January 2008.
Capacity-building & Exchange Workhop on Youth Participation, May 2008, Brussels
On the 21st-23rd May, a capacity-building and exchange workshop was held in Brussels. The aim of this event was to bring together 4 participants from each of the Local Forums, among which we could find people working on youth issues and also young citizens participating in the local forums. The partners of the project identified in the previous phases that the issue of young citizens’ participation remains a very
important challenge for European cities today.
The specific objectives of this Workshop were:
- To bring together 4 participants from the LRFs working on youth policies in their areas.
- To present the different situations (challenges, problems, potentials) of young people in the 4 partner locations on the project: MONTI (Roma); CHARLOIS; BELFAST; TORINO.
- To provide with a European overview of Youth policies and programmes. This contribution was made from different perspectives in order to give a more complete view of how the issue is tackled at a European level.
- To present the result of the online platform created for the Local Forums, which is meant to hold discussions, debates and exchanges online among the different forums and also within one same forum.
- To prepare the development of a project with the same partnership within the “Europe for Citizens” programme.
The programme of the Workshop was divided into 3 days:
Participants arrived on the 21st May and spent the first sessions of the workshop setting the context for the theme of “youth participation” . The coordinator, QeC-ERAN made a general presentation of the project, presenting the objectives, aims and background of the programme “Europe for citizens”. The partners then participated in a game called RICH PICTURE, which is about expressing with images the problems, issues, challenges of a certain issue, namely, “Youth participation” in their local areas. After
the discussions took place in groups, a common session was held in order to give feedback and identify together what are the commonalities among our partners regarding young people’s involvement in public life.
This day was dedicated to make the connections to the European dimension. Different contributions were made from different elements focused on “Youth issues”. The first presentation was made from the International Youth Office in Brussels. Thierry Dufour presented the trends and challenges at a European level as well as the main lines of activity of the organisation. the 4 partners of the project presented throughout the day their local experiences with young people. Roma presented an experience of participatory democracy in the neighbourhood of Monti where young people took a very
active role. Charlois talked about a project developed in the district to tackle early school leaving and unemployment of the young population, as well as social inclusion of minority groups. Belfast has developed a project with excluded youngsters in a very disadvantaged neighbourhood. Finally, the city of Torino presented a project that has involved an online discussion platform of young citizens in one of the neighbourhoods of the city. In addition to these 4 examples of good practice in the field of youth policies and participation, Mr. Pascal Debruyne presented a project that was developed within the Flemish Community in Belgium and was also about young residents’ participation on urban development. From the European Commission, Ms. Veronika Remisova presented the “Youth in Action” Programme under DG EAC. This programme is aimed at promoting participation of young Europeans in order to foster the sense of European identity and the level of ownership among young citizens of the EU.
The online platform was presented by the representative of University of Zurich. All the elements dimension and instructions were given to partners in order for them to start registering in the website and providing information. The end of Day 3 and in general of the whole event, was the discussion around a future project tackling those issues raised and identified during the workshop. the project proposal will be presented under the “Europe for citizens” programme and will be around youth panels on Intercultural Dialogue.
The enlarged European Union presents a rich network of institutional, social and political relationships in which European citizens are the core actors to ensure a democratic development and integration of the EU, by an active involvement in the policies and decision-making processes.
Support our Network
We have created a network to sustain residents' participation in area based regeneration. Citizens' initiatives are developing and represent a new key feature in improving the situation in these areas. Urban Policy is getting more important in General Policy of the EU Members' preoccupations because of the worsening of the situation. Residents' participation contributes to a better understanding and recognition of local problems. This action needs to be supported and encouraged.
Members of the Residents in Regeneration Network
If you would like to register and become a member of the Network please send an email to email@example.com and you will receive a registration form.
Key documents and related links
"Europe for citizens": provisional programme guide
Committee of Regions
Interreg IIIC Programme
Innovative actions for regional competitiveness
Targeted Summary of the Europeans Cities Report for Local Authorities
EU Summaries of Legislation
European Urban Knowledge Network
Centro de Documentacion Europea- Universidad de Valencia
DG Education and culture (Active European citizenship)
DG REGIO Urban policy
European citizens panel
Cities, Networks and Associations
Research Center on Information Technologies and Participatory Democracy
Local Governments for Sustainability
Citizens, involvement, Democracy
Citizenship, Participation and Accountability
Conseils de la Jeunesse
Participacion y Gestion Local
Tool Kit Participation
Association pour la démocratie et l'éducation locale et sociale
Observatorio Internacional de la Democracia Participativa
News and events
Informal ministerial meeting on urban development and territorial cohesion - Leipzig , 24-25 May 2007
The German EU Presidency organises the informal ministerial meeting on urban development and territorial cohesion. The objective is to politically emphasise the social, cultural and economic importance of the European city.
Ministers responsible for urban and spatial development from the EU, accession countries and other neighbouring states will be invited to the meeting along with representatives from the European institutions and some non-government organisations. Two comprehensive documents which have been developed by EU member states, European institutions and non-government organisations, will be presented to the European Ministers for approval:
Europe for Citizens
The provisional programme guide for "Europe for Citizens" is now available on line. Read more>>
The 2007 Communication on culture
Opinion polls confirm that Europeans are generally concerned about the speed of economic and technological change, as well as the phenomenon of globalisation. They feel a loss of identity and often have a sense of disconnection from the European Union.
Against this backdrop, there is a growing recognition that the EU must bring itself closer to the citizen and that art and culture can make an important contribution. Indeed, art and culture offer an inspiring way of looking at reality. They can provide a more human dimension to the integration project, a so-called "Soul for Europe".
In this context, the perception and role of culture in the EU is gradually changing. Whereas, in the past, the question was what Europ could do for culture, there is a growing recognition that culture lies at the heart of the European project and has a unique and indispensable role to play. It is therefore increasingly necessary to also ask what culture can do for Europe.
The Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) is preparing a Communication on culture which seeks to address these issues.
To participate in the consultation:
Brussels: Forum 8 November 2007: Together for Europe - Together for Intercultural Dialogue click here
World Meeting on Participatory Democracy: for which development? see website
FIFTH EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND TOWNS 21-24 MARCH 2007, Seville (Spain)
Open Days 2006 - European Week of Regions and Cities, Brussels 9-12 October
10e Rencontres de la democratie locale, Dijon 20-21 Octobre