2.1 Partnership for the EUI–IA

2.1.1 Partnership principles

Given the complexity and the interconnected nature of the challenges to be addressed, urban authorities cannot act alone when designing and implementing innovative, sustainable and effective solutions.

Involvement of target groups and of wider stakeholders

When developing the EUI-IA project and throughout all project phases, it is necessary to identify and involve the wider stakeholders’ group, depending on the character of the project: local communities, social partners, business, NGOs, experts, institutions, organisations, individuals etc., as well as project’s target groups (i.e. depending on the projects: citizens, trainees, job seekers, vulnerable groups and/or marginalised communities, users of a given service or administration), that may influence or be influenced by the project. Identifying stakeholders, understanding their influence on the EUI-IA project, and balancing their needs and expectations are critical to the success of the project. Therefore, urban authorities should bring all relevant stakeholders around the table to better frame the problems and needs, agree on a shared vision or desired change that the EUI-IA project should contribute to achieve, and design concrete solutions and actions that will tackle the problems and lead to the desired change.

The wider group of stakeholders benefit directly and/or indirectly but has no direct role in the EUI-IA project implementation and should not be considered as partners of the EUI-IA project. Therefore, they have no specific budget allocated, neither explicit responsibilities in the project implementation but are considered relevant and should be actively involved (co-creation) to ensure a smooth and effective delivery of the project. In this sense, it is desirable that the wider group of stakeholders is involved to the extent possible in the design phase, the implementation phase, in the communication and dissemination as well as in the monitoring and evaluation of the project results.

Stakeholders’ identification and involvement should be a continuous process throughout the entire project life cycle to ensure that the developed solutions are inclusive and address these problems in the most efficient way. The involvement of the right stakeholders will also enable and strengthen the sustainability and scaling-up of the project outputs after project end date.

Strong Project Partnership

Within the EUI-IA, the MUA is expected to be directly involved in the experimentation and to play a strategic leading role in the development of the EUI-IA project by establishing and chairing a strong Project Partnership to make it technically, scientifically, and financially viable.

Project Partnership involves:

  • Delivery Partners – key institutions and organisations able to contribute to the implementation of the project, having an active role in the implementation and funding of the project activities by providing financial contribution to the project (the share of the budget ensured by a Project Partner, i.e. co-financing rate);
  • Transfer Partners – cities interested in learning from the experimentation and replicating the innovative solution, following the project implementation and providing the MUA with an external perspective related to the transferability and replicability of the experimented innovative solution;
  • (if applicable – see Chapter 1.5.3 “Third category”) AUA(s).

All Project Partners (MUA or AUA, Delivery Partners and Transfer Partners) benefiting from the ERDF allocation must secure their own contribution (see Chapter 1.8 “Funding principles” for more details).

All Partners must be located in the European Union (it is possible to involve Delivery Partners from different countries, provided they are based in EU Member States and that there is a clear justification in terms of added value for the project). All Partners involved are also expected to formalize their cooperation by signing a Partnership Agreement.

Participation and co-creation

Participation and co-creation are key for the development and implementation of genuinely innovative and experimental projects. Following the definition provided by the New Leipzig Charter “Public participation in urban development processes should engage all urban actors, which also strengthens local democracy. (…) New forms of participation should be encouraged and improved, including co-creation and co-design in cooperation with the project’s target groups and more widely with inhabitants, civil society networks, community organisations and private enterprises. Experimenting with new forms of participation can help cities manage conflicting interests, share responsibilities, and find innovative solutions while also reshaping and maintaining urban spaces and forming new alliances to create integrated city spaces. Public participation is central to the successful delivery of a high-quality built environment.”

Therefore, the EUI-IA projects should integrate and apply participation and co-creation processes with the citizens, social and economic stakeholders across the different project phases. Project promoters should be capable to quantify and monitor the population targeted by participation and co-creation activities, along indicators defined in the Calls for Proposals and other metrics judged appropriate.

2.1.2 Typology of the European Urban Initiative

There are the following types of Project Partners:

Main Urban Authority (MUA)

The EUI-IA functions on the basis of a MUA responsible for the overall implementation and management of the entire project. MUA bears the entire financial and juridical responsibility vis-à-vis the Entrusted Entity. Other Project Partners keep their own responsibility vis-à-vis the MUA. The responsibilities of the Partnership represented by the MUA are described in a Subsidy Contract and in the Partnership Agreement to be signed by all Partners involved after the approval of the project (and Transfer Partners after they are selected). The MUA should ensure the involvement of all Project Partners in the design phase of the project as well as in its implementation.

Nota bene: In the case of associations or grouping of urban authorities with legal status of organised agglomerations (second category of eligible authorities – see Chapter 1.5.2 “Second category” for the details), the institution, including all the other urban authorities involved, is considered as a single urban authority in the framework of the EUI-IA and therefore the agglomeration shall be listed as the MUA. In the case of associations or groupings of urban authorities without legal status of organized agglomeration (third category of eligible authorities – see Chapter 1.5.3 ”Third category” for the details), the urban authorities involved are requested to identify one municipality as MUA and the other municipalities as AUA.

Associated Urban Authorities (AUA)

Any existing association of urban authorities (national/regional associations of urban authorities, territorial pacts or associations, development districts etc.) with or without legal status of organised agglomeration as well as individual urban authorities without formalised cooperation agreement but willing to jointly apply in the framework the EUI-IA shall list in the Application Form one Local Administrative Unit as MUA and the other Local Administrative Units as AUA. The AUA are responsible for the delivery of specific activities and the production of related deliverables/outputs. The AUA have a share of the project budget and report the costs incurred for the delivery of the activities. Detailed information on the AUA (including legal status, experience and competencies, contact persons, etc.) shall be provided in the Application Form.

As such, it is recommended that associations and/or groupings of urban authorities (without a status of organised agglomerations) who wish to apply should be territorially contiguous and seek to limit the number of AUA involved.

The MUA remains responsible for the overall implementation and management of the entire project and bears the entire financial and juridical responsibility vis-à-vis the Entrusted Entity. AUA formalise the contractual relation with the MUA by signing the Partnership Agreement, as other Project Partners, following the approval of the project. As explained above, the Permanent Secretariat provides the MUA with a template of the Partnership Agreement to be signed by all Partners involved in the project.

Proposing new forms of cooperation, of mutualising means to reach the desired critical mass for a joint purpose and thus applying to a EUI-IA Calls for Proposals as a group of urban authorities is possible and sometimes highly desirable to foster functional urban area dynamics. 

Delivery Partners

The development of strong partnerships between public bodies, the private sector and civil society (including citizens and inhabitants) is widely recognised as a cornerstone of sustainable urban development. Depending on the issue to be addressed and based on the local context and previous experiences, MUA should involve a different mix of relevant Partners (institutions, agencies – even if fully owned by municipality/city councils, higher education institutes, private sector partners, investors, research institutions, NGOs, etc.), that are needed to deliver the proposed innovative solution, to achieve project’s objectives and ensure longer term effects as concerns sustainability and scale-up. Delivery Partners should have a relevant experience and expertise to complement that within the MUA and to add value to the entire project. If projects are to address the challenges perceived as the most pressing by the stakeholders and target groups, if they are to be truly bold on innovation and committed to apply tested solutions at wider scale once the project is completed, then they should seek to benefit from the knowledge and expertise that exists outside of the urban authorities in the local ecosystem as well as of the support from public and/or private investors interested to be associated.

The Partnership should be balanced and complementary in terms of policy and thematic competences. Partnerships should seek to promote horizontal (including actors dealing with the different dimensions of the urban challenge to be addressed and vertical integration (including different levels of governance). There is no “one size fits all” solution. Applicants should be aware that Partnerships with more than 10 partners may require extra efforts and resources to ensure an effective management.

Any organisation having legal personality can have the role of a Delivery Partner in the EUI-IA project. Delivery Partners shall have an active role in the design and implementation of the project and are responsible for the delivery of specific activities and the production of the related deliverables/outputs. Delivery Partners have a share of the project budget and report the costs incurred for the delivery of the activities. Delivery Partners should be selected in respect of the principles of transparency and equal treatment. Consultancy firms having as primary objective the development and management of European projects and organisations with no staff budgeted (only declaring external expertise costs) are not entitled to participate in a project as Delivery Partners. Detailed information on Delivery Partners (including legal status, experience and competencies, contact persons, etc.) must be provided in the Application Form. In principle a Delivery Partner could be involved in several project proposals in the framework of the same Call for Proposals provided that the contribution and the added value in the different projects are clearly justified.

Please note, that urban authorities cannot be considered and listed as a Delivery Partner but only as MUA or AUA, provided they fulfil the eligibility criteria listed under Chapter 1.5 ”Eligible authorities”. 

Transfer Partners

Transfer Partners are the urban authorities which join the Project Partnership in order to follow and learn from the experimentation. It is expected that each EUI-IA project will have 3 Transfer Partners originating from other Member States than the MUA.

Any urban authority of a local administrative unit defined according to the degree of urbanisation (DEGURBA) of Eurostat as city, town or suburb (corresponding to DEGURBA code 1 or DEGURBA code 2 of Eurostat) and located in the European Union can become a Transfer Partner. There is no minimum number of inhabitants required (cities of all sizes can become Transfer Partners).

The logic behind Inviting Transfer Partners to the Project Partnership is to foster the adaptability of the tested solution to other urban contexts in the EU and then enhance its chances to be replicated abroad and deployed at wider scale in the longer term, possibly with funding from mainstream Cohesion policy programmes and from the ERDF in particular. Additionally, it may also contribute to support knowledge exchange between the EU cities and build long-term relations between them. Being involved in the experimentation will allow Transfer Partners to reinforce their own innovation potential and increase their capacity for implementing innovative solutions (both in terms of content and process) and prepare the process of adapting and replicating, in all or in part, the tested innovative solution in their own cities by participating in the transfer activities and benefiting from a solution they will see materialising and bringing results, but also overcoming problems and obstacles that pave the way to innovation.

Transfer Partners must be identified and selected and are expected to commit to the Project Partnership the latest during the Initiation Phase. The transfer cooperation, implemented through the Work Package Transfer, must start no later than 12 months from the start of the project implementation. Transfer Partners will have a fixed budget allocated to them. For more details on the transfer component of the EUI-IA project see Chapters 5 “Transfer” and Chapter 2.2.7 “Work Package Transfer”.

2.1.3 Examples of the project partnership structures

Graphic presentation below (Figure 3) illustrate couple of examples of possible Partnership structures.

Figure 3. Examples of the Project Partnership structures


Another question?