We have just returned from the URBACT Annual Conference, strengthened in our conviction that combining transnational discussions with the local impact that URBACT II develops is working better and better. We experienced a warm and effective welcome in Liege; discussions were rich and high in quality. Here, I will review the results of the URBACT Café, where all the participants, grouped by country or by language, responded to three questions concerning the URBACT Programme, in view of developing a third and final Call for proposals, which will be launched in December 2011.
- Question one: What, in your opinion, are URBACT’s main results?
What comes first is opening to new local partners in the Local Support Groups, but also in regional, national and, of course, European ones. Second came the contact with local realities thanks to the obligation to produce Local Action Plans.
- Question two: What difficulties did you encounter in implementing the URBACT programme?
A lot of people complained about URBACT’s disproportionate bureaucracy. And then came difficulties in the relations with Managing Authorities. People also pinpointed the difficulties encountered in keeping transnational partnerships alive, and motivating Local Support Group members over time.
- Question three: What improvements would you suggest?
There were many ideas, of course. Proposals for simpler and more flexible project management. Facilitating the search for partners, the participation of private partners and non-governmental association in URBACT projects. Planning for a period to implement Local Action Plans and disseminate results as part of the project life span. And, of course, greater collaboration with Managing Authorities, improving the link between Local Action Plans and operational programmes (ERDF and ESF).
We will quickly publish a summary of all these proposals on our URBACT website, and we are already looking into finding some answers.
Head of the URBACT Secretariat