The URBACT experience in Hungarian Cities

Mariann Majorné Venn

By Mariann Majorné Venn, on November 27th, 2014

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The more formal outcome of the participation in most URBACT project networks (with the exception of the pilot delivery networks) for a city is what we call a Local Action Plan (LAP), co-produced by city authorities and stake-holders of the Local Support Group (ULSG) . The latest national training scheme seminar in Hungary focused on the assesment of finalised LAPs. The participants shared the experience – successes and problems – gained during the last seven years, and offered proposals for action, program events to be considered during the forthcoming program period. Here, a few lessons learned!


The prime condition of the action plan implementation is finance. It is a general view that the greatest difficulty comes from post financing and the shortage of ressources for down payment needed for the project, especially in the case of civil/community and for-profits participants. It is therefore essential to clarify the issue of the down payment for the local governments and city management authorities participating in the URBACT program and to find solutions to consolidate the position of those without ressources for it. The tendering system’s rigidity may undermine the coordinated planned implementation of complex programs and projects.


The various programs face different management problems, nevertheless some common tendencies and risks can be identified. In the case of programs overarching the election cycles any personal change in city management may be a fundamental threat. It has indeed happened that the new city management has not supported the program and its implementation. It is also an important condition and indispensable for the solution of problems in relation with the city management that the project leader is committed and command competences as well as sufficient time and energy to be devoted to the project. It is also important that management structure would be sufficiently clear cut, the responsibilities are clarified and the management is effectively integrated.

Engaging Stakeholders

One issue, of course, is that communities left out from the program may become opponents. Such a situation has come up where access to the advantages of the program was not equal for the whole residential community. It is important to ensure the long term sustainability of the Local Support Group, after the finalisation of the action plan, and to let it monitor the implementation process. The action plans have long term perspective. The implementation of the action plans can be managed and mastered in view of the prevailing situation and possibilities by a sustaining and cooperative organisation only.


An underlined theme of the survey of experiences was communication. The greatest obstacle of communication is that information spreads usually horizontally, at the level of work status. It is therefore important to strengthen the links with the management as well as with the local residents. The involvement of local media is essential as local opinion formers and thus turning to the extensive group of residents. The launch of various local communication campaigns may be useful for the spread of results, prospects and possibilities.

The participants of the seminar formed small groups to work out recommendations for planning and implementation of the URBACT III program. It was based on feedback from earlier meetings, when participants had made recommendation sfor the availability of a methodological guidebook of action planning. The reinforcement of the role of the Local Support Groups is regarded as important , as is also the employment of a person responsible for project management and a more active involvement of local decision makers. The management and communication of the projects can be improved by means of workshops and skills training for the participants of the local action groups. Furthermore, for the enhancement of local community planning the professional moderation of the work of the local action groups and capacity building in community planning are necessary. The existing associations of cities and eventually an association of URBACT cities will help the enhancement of domestic links and exchange of experience.

The contributions of the national seminar are available on the website – download here

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