Cohesion policy plays a pivotal role in delivering the Europe 2020 strategy. That is why EMI is conveying its opinions on the proposals for the Financial Regulations of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). EMI concludes that the proposals acknowledge the urban potential, but that there should be more scope for a larger role of urban research. In October 2011 the European Commission published the proposals for ERDF, period 2014-2020. The ERDF Financial Regulations are the main budget instrument to financially support urban and metropolitan regions across Europe.
Defining investment priorities
Firstly, EMI supports the idea of ‘investment priorities’ linked to the Europe 2020 strategy. EMI agrees with the proposed strengthening of research and innovation, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, entrepreneurship, sustainable urban mobility, social inclusion and removal of bottlenecks in key network infrastructures.
Support for sustainable urban development
Secondly, EMI backs the ERDF support for sustainable urban development through strategies setting out “integrated actions to tackle economic, environmental, climate and social challenges affecting urban areas". In its conceptual proposals the Commission asks Member States to establish a list of cities where these integrated actions are to be implemented. 5 % of the ERDF resources allocated at national level are reserved for sustainable urban development.
Establishing an urban development platform
Thirdly, EMI is supportive of the idea to establish an ‘urban development platform’ to promote capacity-building between cities and exchange of experiences on urban policy at Union level. The Commission's initial idea is to select certain cities which already have a strategy for integrated and sustainable urban development in place. EMI would like to stress the importance of cities learning from each other. According to EMI, for example, cities coined as ‘starters’ and ‘climbers’ (instead of only ‘champions’) in the field of sustainable urban development should especially be selected for the forum.
EMI: Research based, practice led approach
Despite the salutation of urban and metropolitan regions as important facilitators of the Europe2020 strategy, the ERDF regulation is still missing concrete ideas on collaboration between urban research and urban practice. As an advice for further development of the ERDF Regulation, EMI would therefore like to point to a ‘research-based, practice-led’ approach in which urban practice leads the way for funded urban research. In one of its articles it is stated that the ERDF supports the development of endogenous potential by supporting regional and local development. EMI would therefore like to propose a larger role for non-profit and long-term research in sustainable urban development.