What is the European Urban Initiative?

The European Urban Initiative is an essential tool to support cities of all sizes, to build capacity and knowledge, to support innovation and develop transferable and scalable innovative solutions to urban challenges of EU relevance.

Who we are

street in Lille

Who we are


In times of rapid urbanisation, Europe is increasingly facing dire urban challenges ranging from the global health crisis and the rise of digitalisation to societal inequalities, demographic changes, climate change and environmental degradation.

To face these pressing challenges, EU cities must transform and adapt themselves, pushed to develop their creative and innovative potential, within the limits of their competencies, funding and capacity.

In this transformative perspective for cities, the European Urban Initiative (EUI), funded by the European Union, supports urban areas of all sizes with innovative actions, capacity and knowledge building, as well as policy development and communication on sustainable urban development.


EUI has a total ERDF budget of €450 million for 2021-2027

to create and offer opportunities and an environment for implementing bold urban strategies. These projects test new solutions, techniques and planning models, building capacities and sharing knowledge in sustainable urban development.

EUI takes its roots in a strong commitment to strengthen the urban dimension of EU policies and the conviction of the EU that cities must be involved in the design and implementation of policy responses to their local challenges.

Who do we support?


Are you:

urbanpra urbanpra

Working for an urban authority established in the European Union, eager to learn from other cities, exchange on experiences or seeking for funding to face a particular urban challenge with new and bold solutions?

policy maker policy maker

working for cities managing European funds or implementing sustainable urban development strategies?

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looking for inspiring ideas or new collaborations?

innovatorwhite innovatorwhite

looking for a testbed and funding to have the chance to experiment your idea at urban scale?

citiz citiz

looking for information on EU support to cities and how to improve your city?

Then, the EUI is here for you!

This novel initiative is an essential tool to support cities of all sizes, to build capacity and knowledge, to support innovation and develop transferable and scalable innovative solutions to urban challenges of EU relevance.


The EUI provides you with different levels of assistance:

  • Supporting urban authorities with up to 80% direct co-financing and up to €5M ERDF, allowing EU cities to experiment as testbeds for their innovative idea and transferring it to other cities
  • Strengthening capacities of cities in the design of sustainable urban development strategies, policies and practices in an integrated and participative way
  • Providing a knowledge environment for cities to ensure easier access to horizontal and thematic knowledge and share the know-how on sustainable urban development

Our logic

The underlying principle of the EUI logic is the creation of an effective value chain between the different components as illustrated below.

intervention logic

The principle can be illustrated as follows:

  • Cities implementing innovative actions (Strand A) will generate thematic knowledge and good practices that will feed into the capacity-building and capitalisation activities (Strand B)
  • Innovative actions strand (A), due to two main transfer mechanisms (one embedded in projects, the other in collaboration with URBACT IV), and the capacity building strand (B) will enable cities to transfer innovative solutions and improve their own knowledge and capacity in delivering sustainable urban development
  • Capacity and knowledge building (B) will enable cities to develop and strengthen their skills, the know-how and expertise in designing and implementing integrated policies for sustainable urban development, as well as in innovating and developing bold solutions to be funded (A).
  • The activities of the Urban Agenda for the EU will feed into the value chain of EUI, together with the other sustainable urban development activities of the Cohesion policy, to generate stronger linkages and benefits for all actors involved

The European Context

European flag

European flag


For the period 2021-2027, the objective 5 of the European Cohesion Policy Europe closer to citizens has been introduced as an enhanced commitment to integrated territorial development and to foster sustainable urban development.

A minimum 8% of the ERDF resources in each Member State must also be invested in priorities and projects selected by cities themselves and based on their own sustainable urban development strategies.

Within this framework and based on article 12 ERDF regulation, the EUI specifically aims to:

  • strengthen integrated and participatory approaches to sustainable urban development, and to provide a stronger link to EU policies, and in particular to Cohesion Policy and investments in urban areas as part of the funding earmarked for these areas under Article 11 of the ERDF/CF Regulation and beyond.
  • offer coherent support to cities to overcome the current landscape of manifold initiatives, programmes and instruments in support of cities under Cohesion Policy, and in particular, by maximising synergy and complementarity with the interregional cooperation programme URBACT IV. 

EUI will also support the multi-level working of the Urban Agenda for the EU and intergovernmental cooperation on urban matters.

Where we come from

During 2014-2020, some €115 billion from the Cohesion policy funds were invested in cities. Of these,€17 billion was implemented locally through more than 980 sustainable urban development strategies managed directly by urban authorities. In parallel with these significant urban investments, the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) initiative provided direct support for cities to experiment with innovative solutions.

The Urban Development Network (UDN) was set up with the mission to support the dialogue and information exchange between the ‘Article 7 cities’, Urban Innovative Actions cities and the European Commission (hereinafter ‘the Commission’).

The URBACT III programme built the capacities of cities to work together and develop integrated solutions to common urban challenges by transnational networking, learning from experiences and identifying good practices to improve sustainable urban development policies and strategies.

The EUI is a novel initiative that will build on these past experiences by going a step further to offer coherent support to cities; foster city led innovation, sharing of urban knowledge, practices and to build capacities.

Urban Innovative Actions

Discover the previous experiments conducted by the UIA funded cities and all the knowledge stemming from the implementation of these innovative solutions.