Katalin Kolosy

1. Introduction

In 2010, the publication of the ADETEF Study for DG REGIO marked a turning point. It revisited local development and the local development approach, and brought together lessons from some 25 years of experience in Europe. It also addressed the role of local development in EU Cohesion Policy. This chapter opens with an outline of key points from this study and goes on to present several other studies which were completed since the ADETEF Study, and which are of direct relevance to LD.

Studies covered in this paper are EU-related and fall into three groups:

  • Studies specifically on LD carried out for the European Commission, generally or in connection with specific EU funds:
    • Cohesion support to local development - DG REGIO 2010 (Section 2).
    • ESF support to Local Employment Initiatives - DG EMPL 2011 (Section 3).
    • LD contribution in delivering ERDF interventions - DG REGIO 2012 (Section 4).

  • Ex-post evaluations of EU Initiatives in the 2000-2006 period:
    • LEADER+ (Section 5)
    • EQUAL (Section 6)
    • URBAN II (Section 7)

  • Selected monographic studies:
    • Socially responsible territories: a new paradigm for local development (Section 8)
    • Cities of tomorrow: challenges, visions, ways forward (Section 9)

The paper concludes with remarks that highlight key points arising from the wide ranging and diverse material and view points of these studies (Section 10)

2. Cohesion support to local development

In 2010, The EC’s DG REGIO published Cohesion support for local development: best practice and future policy options. This extensive document explores cohesion policy and programmes from the angle of local development, drawing on six months of teamwork led by Marjorie Jouen (see ADETEF Study).

The exercise re-opened discussion of the definition of local development, which was fed by an extensive literature review as well as research on over 30 years of EU support to local development (Annexes 1 & 2 of the study). It is illustrated by eight in-depth analyses of local areas that have implemented a local development approach: Pirkanmaan Syke (Tampere – Finland), Pays de Figeac, du Ségala au Lot-Célé (France), Leipzig URBAN II Project (Germany), Cserehát Programme: Microregion in Hungarian Border Area (Hungary), Dundalk Area-based Partnership (Ireland), Budujemy Nowy Lisków (Poland), Inner-central Algarve (Serra do Caldeirão – Portugal), Merseyside Pathways (United Kingdom).

This incremental process led to comprehensive recommendations on best practice and policy options for local development, such as:

  • be based on a clear definition of its aims (what type of local development is supported, which kind of area and which sort of issue are to be tackled);
  • be visible in the cohesion policy, and consequently detailed in the future regulation;

  • incentivise the managing authorities (‘push approach’);

  • be sufficiently attractive (‘pull approach’) for the local and regional authorities, third sector and private partners;

  • allow the development of sustainable local groups and area-based strategies, in providing adequate support;

  • show a 'marketable' added value in comparison with the other 'objectives';
  • ensure the best conditions for effective local development;

be coherent with other programmes or other funds.


  • Towards integrated tools for policy innovation

During the action-research process, several stakeholders sent position papers to DG REGIO, reflecting their findings or solutions for the future. The UK Local Government Association (LGA) was particularly generous in sending an extensive list of resources, one of which was the first principles of a Local Development Methodology (LDM). They also insisted on the fact that stakeholders ‘struggling to find the financial means to address local issues often find EU funds as key to unlocking solutions to local and European, but not necessarily national, challenges. Community-led development provides space for policy innovation, and one of their recommendations for developing added-value after 2013 is to free up and simplify cohesion support to innovation. This discourse (drafted at the end of 2009) has certainly inspired the formulation of the current Draft Regulations. Whether it endorses an integrated approach to support community-led development through all forms of innovation, such as open innovation, social innovation, social experimentation and public sector innovation, has to be further explored.

  • Towards people-centered and place-based strategies

Another position was to insist upon the territorial dimension, seeking balanced inter-relations between urban and rural poles (Ruralité-Environnement-Développement), allowing for higher added value of local economic development, including entrepreneurship initiatives (see OECD LEED Programme). The value added should be calculated for the whole European multi-governance governance system working in a coherent way to obtain commonly defined strategies and objectives.

  • The rise of a common framework

The issue of the promotion of local development in cohesion policy as an effective method of delivering the Europe 2020 Strategy has been raised, as well as the need for an organisational model for a more coherent EU support. The shape of this organisational model resembles the so-called ‘Common Framework’ currently being discussed in the various Committees (ESF, EARDF, ERDF, etc.).

insert image 25 here

The final report mentions two options. First, it was emphasised that the EU added value lies in the interactions between the programmes (mainstreaming, dissemination, scaling-up, etc.). In order to ensure a widespread take-up of local development, it may be decided to retain a percentage of the funds with the aim of ‘up-grading’ the cohesion policy, the reserve being used as a top-up for all types of programmes committed to participate in transferring local development good practices and innovative methods.

Second, local development may be seen as part of a multi-level territorial policy which makes room for an articulation between (i) a strategic regional level - regional development programmes - and (ii) a more operational level where projects are implemented by local partnerships. This approach may include other sectoral policies provided that the economic, social and territorial dimensions of the cohesion are devoted to an overarching objective for the EU.

3. European Social Fund support to Local Employment Initiatives (LEI)

A recent study undertaken by AEIDL for the European Social Fund (ESF) coordination Unit of EC/DG EMPL (2011) reveals that ESF actions to promote LEIs, although being differently organised in the operational programming exercise, share a common scope of stimulating development “from within” (place-based) and engaging local stakeholders from public, private and voluntary organisations in a shared vision. It resembles somehow the current ‘Transition towns’ movement, which is an example of localisation thinking aimed at enhancing local communities to develop local resilience to global change.

One major feature of LEIs is the place-based approach that aims to create better synergies in delivering coherent policies in connection with local needs and to establish links with other policies including poverty reduction. FN3 However, some LEIs do not have a place-based component although they are implemented locally. This is notably the case for micro-projects in France.

The overall goals of LEIs are sustainable jobs, social justice and wellbeing for all in the local community. The perimeter is usually rather small in size and corresponds to a travel to work area, a deprived urban neighbourhood or an industrial restructuring area. FN4 In order to reach these goals, local stakeholders get together to match demand (productive sectors and local authorities accountable for these policies) with supply (education and training, labour market services, NGOs in the field of social action).

In the ESF Operational Programmes, this small-scale attribute is sometimes hidden behind the regional delivery mechanism of the same name, like in Austria where Territorial Employment Pacts qualify several LEIs regrouped under a coordination and networking platform at regional level, or in Andalusia (Spain) where a dozen of LEIs get support from a local employment policy developed at regional level (Actuaciones Territoriales Integrales Preferentes para el Empleo – ATIPE).

Together, the local stakeholders produce a combined diagnosis (in a systemic approach, including internal and external factors for potential development) and produce an action plan (involving all partners). To do so, they often empower local communities (which is an important element of innovation in the promotion of a more sustainable approach).

The various steps of this process form a Local Employment Initiative, a tentative typology of which is illustrated in the figure below.

insert figure: "Tentative Typology"

In most countries, social and employment policies are implemented through centralised instruments, and LEIs’ policy design and guidance are provided by higher levels. However, through a European impulse it has become possible to involve sub-regions, local networks, local authorities and other local stakeholders like Job Centres, social partners, NGOs and civil society, in order to address local needs.

Innovative patterns appear clearly in the field of the social economy, where Local Employment Initiatives are growing fast. This is because this sector is firmly place-based through its response to local collective needs, mostly in the fields of health and care. The Swedish project LIVSVAL FN5 (Life choice in English) clearly illustrates the bridge between the social economy and local development. It is a perfect example of how various local stakeholders, steered by social NGOs in this case, can operate efficiently at local level in developing innovative solutions to the problems encountered by vulnerable groups.

  • LEIs and evaluation

Assessing how LEIs actually work and provide best value for money remains a major challenge for ESF and managing authorities, especially in a context of growing pressures on public spending. In the past, such approach has been undermined by the lack of evidence, evaluation pitfalls and misuses. Nowadays, methods and tools are available, thanks to the ESF efforts to evaluate OPs as well as other publications. FN6

In Germany, the mid-term evaluation in 2006 confirmed that “the instruments and procedures that were established under the horizontal objective `Local Development´ have proved to be effective labour market instruments against social exclusion, as well as for socio-spatial integration and coherence.” FN7 In the final evaluation report, the promotion of local development is judged by the practical implementation of labour market policy “as still meaningful”.

In Portugal, the evaluation of the Social Network Program showed that in 2007, 10,066 different organisations/partners were integrated into the Social Network. The level of development of the planning instruments has risen from year to year and in 2008, 278 Municipalities were involved. They had developed 269 Social Diagnostics, 260 Social Development Plans and 253 Action Plans. The programme has also improved the coordination between the different instruments at all the levels of governance.

Although several LEI schemes from the last programming period have been assessed through specific evaluation procedures, there is a common position in all country reviews, that acknowledges the lack of monitoring and evaluation indicators for Local Employment Initiatives within the ESF framework.

In France for instance “Evaluation gaps related to measures on experimentation will result in the impossibility of providing recommendations to improve the delivery mechanisms, and beyond that, to fully exploit the innovative results produced, which appears to be an important loss, and questions about the utility of experimentation... Networking and professionalisation of networks also belong to this category of ‘evaluation gaps’”.

  • LEI indicators

As a counter-example, the method adopted by the Regional Government of Andalusia (Spain) in order to select Targeted Areas for Integrated Employment and Inclusion Plans (ATIPE) is worth looking at. It applies specific thresholds – voted by the regional assembly – to four categories of indicators: (i) demographic structure (dependency index), (ii) population growth (migration rate), (iii) employment (activity, employment and unemployment rates) and (iv) education (illiteracy rate, educational attainment among employed and unemployed). This mapping exercise was put alongside the annual quality of life survey produced by the National Institute of Statistics. FN8 Despite similar patterns, the aggregate picture from the regional level concealed marked differences between local areas, which helped local stakeholders to determine and plan their distinct strategies. For instance, the city of Córdoba is focusing on its low business density and puts the priority on the promotion of self-employment, whereas the area of lower Guadalquivir, strongly dependent upon agriculture, tries to diversify its economic activities, all under the same ESF heading.

  • LEIs and green jobs

In Spain still, the Empleaverde network, supported by the ESF national OP on Adaptability and Employment, recently published a study on green jobs that provides solid evidence of social innovation related to nature conservation, organic farming and environmental issues. FN9 Even though the relationship to local employment development is taken as an assumption at this stage, this type of study could provide an interesting basis for the design of LEI monitoring indicators.

  • Main findings

In some countries, LEIs are deeply rooted in cultural and institutional behaviours through community development, as in Scandinavian countries, where such behaviours rely on traditions of civic participation. Community development is a way in which communities can attain their rights. The European Union Cohesion policies, starting with Article 6 of the ESF and Article 10 of the ERDF during the 2000-2006 period and also through Community Initiatives such as EQUAL, contributed by spreading this community development model across all Member States, under the banner of Local Employment Initiatives.

In other countries, LEIs are carried along a development pattern of citizenship and civic society initiatives, économie solidaire, third sector movement and social entrepreneurship. France has been one of the most active countries in this field under the EQUAL programme.

LEIs develop under the umbrella of, and in close relationship with, place-based delivery mechanisms supported by other funds such as LEADER in rural areas, or regeneration policies in deprived urban areas. They are related to the vertical integration of policy areas in the fields of Social Inclusion (social affairs, social protection), Employment (labour market, migration flows), Training (vocational models, outreach models), Poverty Reduction (welfare, family, housing, education) and Economic Development (regeneration schemes, restructuring, business creation).

Common key features of successful LEIs that have received ESF support over the last ten years are the local remit, the bottom-up and partnership approaches with a leading role for local stakeholders, notably NGOs, community groups, local authorities and employment services, a systemic approach taking into account the internal and external conditions of the local strategic plan, as well as a focus on innovative ways of empowering and integrating target groups into communities and the labour market.

LEIs offer low operational costs and strong social resilience. Simplified ESF support can be entrusted to local employment initiatives in order to unleash local social capital, a rich ferment to innovative solutions for sustainable employment development and better social justice. Added value could be ascertained through adjusted quality of life indicators already used for tracking data under National Action Plans for Social Inclusion.

The promoters of EU budgetary discipline should all become ‘locavores,’ FN10 as LEIs do not require large investments or grants. They also create economies of scale, providing that the transaction costs, or in other words the administrative procedures of getting ESF funding to the final beneficiaries, are optimised and present the least possible burdens for both Managing Authorities and local stakeholders.

4. The contribution of local development in delivering interventions co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

DG REGIO of the European Commission is keen to understand the effects of local development interventions in terms of socio-economic development, better living conditions and territorial balance within regions, and how the local development approach contribute to the effective delivery of Cohesion Policy.

For this purpose, a study has been launched and produced its inception report in March 2011 FN11 and its first interim report in October 2011. FN12 This report is divided in three parts: (i) a literature review, (ii) the screening of 38 Operational Porgrammes and (iii) the identification of 10 regional case studies.

Literature review

An introductory statement of this chapter recognises that the Local Development Approach (LDA) is a popular notion.

Three different strands analyse in great detail the concepts of territory, policy integration and stakeholders involvement, with a mix of academic reviews and empirical analysis over programming documentation. It starts with acknowledging the theoretical basis on industrial district (Beccatini) and heterodox economics (Perroux), and by rejecting New Economic Geography as a paradigm for LDA.

The fact that ‘The process of local development is a systemic process’ seems to be endorsed (page 17), and some interesting notions are highlighted, such as ‘conditional cooperative behaviour’ (Schikora, 2011), the combination of different forms of knowledge to pursue more effective policy, with particular attention to ‘ordinary knowledge’ as developed by the schools of thought dealing with human capital and social capital (Porter, Putnam, Fukyama, Bourdieu).

The study then looks at the role of institutions in LDA, through New Institutional Economics (NIE) and governance studies.

It introduces a discussion about Networks Governance Arrangements (NGAs) and Participatory Governance Arrangements (PGAs) and the way this distinction can help to understand policy change in the local development approach. It is followed by another – rather academic – discussion on concentration or fragmentation of powers, and the role of citizen participation in public policy. According to the study, the issue of participation has gone through various attempts to re-think different fields of policies, from urban design to spatial planning, from social policies to educational policy or environmental policy.

Bottom-up approaches to local development are then put in perspective, going back to capacity building programs implemented by NGOs and international organizations to local pioneering initiatives more than fifty years ago, as well as the Territorial Employment Pacts and LEADER in the nineties.
The statement stemming from the ADETEF study, saying that the main strengths of a LDA centred on the mobilisation of local partnership is on the one hand its resilience and on the other hand its low cost of implementation, is then criticized. Main weaknesses are pointed out as being the size (too small), the time line (too long to measure substantial success) and the risk of collusion (a loose collection of people and organisations with conflicting interests held together by the prospect of securing government money - Cowan 2005, cited in Menzies, 2010).

The study uses the causal mechanisms theory in order to identify, at different levels of abstractions, the causal chains that could operate in generating the results (“How does LDA work?”).

While examining the strengths and weaknesses of the territorial approach, if competition is prevalent and no coherent concept of territorial (regional and local) development exists, “what we can expect from LDA is a continuous generation of development winners and development losers. And very hard questions will be posed: what are we willing to do with its loser territories? How are we going to cope with the explosive potential of a diversity that turns into inequality? And what could and should do a regional, national or supranational development policy against this?”

On the basis of the literature review, the study provides a tentative definition. The Local Development Approach is based on four main points:
• LDA is a social and political process whose goal is the social and economic development of disadvantaged areas.
• LDA is place based in the sense that it should necessarily refer to a specific territory in which there are resources that can be exploited in order to reach the development goal.
• LDA entails the ability to link together a number of different sectoral policies.
• LDA implies the mobilisation of a plurality of different actors at the local level.

This results in three ideal models of LDA, namely:

1. "Pure" LDA

- small territorial focus
- (mostly) integrated thematic approach
- partnership as a goal
- inclusive partnership

2. LDA as a corrective in sectoral policies

- wide or small territorial focus depending on the policy
- single thematic focus
- partnership both as a tool and as a goal
- selective partnership

3. LDA in regional policy

- wide(r) territorial focus
- integrated thematic approach
- partnership as a tool
- selective/strategic partnership (including multi-level governance)

OP screening

In the second part of the study, 38 OPs are investigated in 16 Member States (Poland, Hungary, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Germany, Romania, Slovenia, France, Latvia, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Estonia, and Bulgaria).

Out of the 38 OPs analysed:
- 23 OPs are considered to have adopted a broad local development approach;
- 9 OPs are considered to have adopted the local development approach to a limited extent. This means that the OPs nominally refer to the three dimensions above (without always providing explicit and/or operative references) and, in some cases, only to one or two of them;
- 6 OPs are considered not to have adopted a local development approach.

On the basis of these findings, the study summarises how the 23 assessed OPs refer to the three dimensions which, according to the literature review are considered essential to any local development approach:
- territoriality;
- integration and multidimensionality;
- local actors cooperation and mobilisation of partnership.

The main finding is that all the 23 OPs have a place-based character through a clear identification of a specific territory in which LDA can be used.
An indicative table shows the allocation of resources with regard to thematic entries:

The following figure presents the total amount of ERDF for LDA (MEURO) per theme:

insert figure

Case studies

Ten Regional Cases have been identified and submitted for approval:

1. Andalucia
2. Puglia (Italy)
3. Slaskie Voivodship (Poland)
4. Czech Regional Northwest (Czech Republic)
5. Western Greece-Peloponnesus-Ionian Islands (Greece)
6. Nord Pas de Calais (France)
7. Western Slovakia, Central Slovakia, Southern Slovakia Regional Operational
Program (Slovakia)
8. Berlin Metropolitan Area (Germany)
9. West Wales and the Valleys (United Kingdom)
10. Least Developed Micro-regions (LDMR) Programme – 30 Micro-regions across Hungary (Hungary).

5. Local development in rural areas: the LEADER method

Since its first pilot implementation in 1990, policy proofing of the LEADER model – bottom-up participatory approach, endogenous and territorial, with global grants on small scale projects – has been widely positive. The integration of LEADER to the 2007 European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) was only the confirmation of what was already happening in many parts of the Union.

  • Findings of the ex-post evaluation of LEADER+ (2000-2006)

The study was commissioned by EC/DG AGRI to a group of experts led by METIS with AEIDL and CEU as subcontractors; its final report was released in 2010. FN19

The distinctive feature of LEADER is the approach based on small scale, area based and multi-faceted activities. Managing Authorities and Local Action Groups (LAGs) are almost unanimous in the view that LEADER+ has complemented mainstream programmes in a number of different ways, most significantly as a means of experiment with reduced concerns about failure (‘laboratory’ aspect), by mobilising small local groups unreachable by the main functional structures of Government, and by supporting investments which by virtue of sector or scale were not covered by the main state agencies.

Although innovation was intended to be an important feature of LEADER activities, it was not a main focus of the LAGs. Notwithstanding, many LAGs have supported technology projects ranging from the facilitation of access to computers among the local population to advanced technology projects in the IT area and other sectors.

Improving the quality of life was the most popular theme selected by LAGs. It included development of tourism facilities, promotion of services to old people and the young and preservation of the environment, both built and natural.

A further aim of LEADER was to accelerate diversification of the rural economy through adding value to local products and exploiting natural and cultural resources. This is a constituent of the Lisbon and Göteborg Agendas. Although adding value to local products was not a high priority for LAGs, a relatively large number of projects were in this category.

While many LAGs have initiated projects in the agricultural sector, on the whole these have been aimed at on farm or off farm diversification, including adding-value through on-farm processing, rather than raising agricultural productivity at primary production level.

  • Beyond economic development

In the wider context of the EU’s approach to rural development, local identities, sustainable natural environment, landscape diversity and cultural endowments are major assets of rural areas to be preserved, promoted and enhanced. LEADER+ was not framed, therefore, as an instrument exclusively for economic development in terms of directly created and generated employment and incomes.

  • The innovation gap

The report highlights a need to sharpen the multi-dimensional meaning of innovation as a characteristic of the LEADER approach: it relates to individual projects, to local development strategies as well as to local development support as a component of local governance. The conceptual framing of territorial innovation which was successfully done during the nineties in the light of the experiences made under LEADER I and II might need an update or even a reshaping to match the experiences of today. The recognition of the strategic character of innovation brings with it that the financial and technical support should be sufficiently diverse to meet requirements of different kinds and stages of innovation. A universal approach to project generation and approval would negatively impinge on innovation.

  • Social capital

Regarding obstacles and success factors for implementing innovative LEADER strategies, most of the obstacles were ascribed to framework conditions which were beyond the sphere of influence of local actors, whereas the success factors and proposed solutions are perceived as pertaining to the quality of the social capital, the capacity to co-operate and the collective ability to translate a shared vision into real projects. Autonomy and the decentralisation of project approval and funding were broadly advocated. Room for manoeuvre in financing was also considered essential for success: upfront payments allowed the LAGs to get going quickly and avoid delay to project start-ups.

There was a clear link between the LEADER approach and the enrichment of local social capital, as well as networking links around certain themes and activities. Connecting people and activities is the quintessence of the LEADER approach.

6. EU-wide evaluation of the Community Initiative EQUAL 2001-2006

The relation between community-led development and EQUAL has been evidenced by many grass-root projects. The executive summary of the final ex post evaluation FN17, which was cerried out by METIS in association with KANTOR (2010, recalls however that the aim of EQUAL is to promote new means of combating all forms of discrimination and inequalities in connection with the labour market. To achieve this aim, EQUAL operates in 9 thematic fields. Implementation takes place through geographical or sector-based Development Partnerships (DPs), and is guided by 5 key principles (partnership, empowerment, trans-nationality, innovation and mainstreaming). The local dimension was often lost in sector-based actions or by specifically tackling disadvantaged target groups, and with very few exceptions, EQUAL best practice examples were not clearly documented as integrated, community-led development.

However, some of the evaluation findings acknowledge the role of the local development process. For instance, it recognises that geographical DPs prevailed and DP strategies were found to be highly responsive to local contexts. This breach into place-based and territorial strategies – instead of the classic people-centred approach – for social affairs is very significant as such.

Furthermore, initiatives for anticipating and accompanying industrial change both through local regeneration partnerships, economic actions, and up skilling mature workers – in the shipbuilding industry for example – has benefited in 3 Member States: France, Greece and Italy.

Among the reported pitfalls, there is a notable lack of evidence on impacts on organisations (other than partner organisations): ‘Impacts can be said to still be very much local in scope’. But isn’t this a typical view from national administrations considering the local impact too small to be successful?

The ‘pilot’ dimension is also considered as a risk factor. Local organisations working with highly vulnerable people – often being NGOs with chronic cash flow fragilities – sometimes hesitate to pilot experimental schemes and prefer to innovate ‘on the margins’ in order not to take the risk of having to face an absence of further funding with dramatic consequences for the beneficiaries. A clear positioning of innovation in the future programmes on policy areas where there is an explicit demand for new developments will help reduce that risk.

The effectiveness and added value of the Partnership and Empowerment principles is after all the major selling point of EQUAL in terms of local and community-led development. The evaluation recognises that “the implementation of the partnership and empowerment principle, understood as a mechanism for bringing together various relevant actors for tackling an issue and for working together towards shared goals, has probably been one of the main successes of EQUAL. It has been a necessary (though not sufficient) condition to facilitate access, both to ‘target groups’ and, though to a lesser extent, to the decision-making community’”

In its recommendations for informing the Social Inclusion process, the report highlights that EQUAL has promoted local multi-stakeholder partnerships to tackle not only employment issues but also the underpinning attitudes and behaviours of employers leading to the discrimination of employees or jobseekers. New co-operative mechanisms for tackling social exclusion have also been set up. This has probably been one of the major areas of achievement of EQUAL.

It even pleads for “the creation and sustainability of new networks for tackling worklessness in a more holistic and client centred way, and the design of multilevel and multifaceted strategies to counter discrimination (especially racial and gender discrimination), involving actors located in different institutional and organisational settings”.

Finally, the keyword for appraising the local development dimension of the EQUAL Initiative would be ‘Multi-agency work’, recommended for an improved interface and empowerment of people suffering from social disadvantage and discrimination.

7. Ex-post evaluation of the URBAN Community Initiative 2000-2006

The URBAN Community Initiative 2000-2006, known as URBAN II, was co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It followed the Urban Pilot Projects (1989-99) and URBAN I (1994-99) and shared with both initiatives a focus on innovative and integrated approaches to regenerating neighbourhoods in crisis, and promoting sustainable urban development. In common with the previous initiatives, URBAN II focused resources on defined neighbourhoods. Its linkages to local development have always been considered strong but not in all cases.

The table below summarises the selected cities involved in URBAN II and the EU funding allocated by Member State.

insert table

The ex-post evaluation of URBAN II was carried out by ECOTEC. The study report of June 2010 is available on DG REGIO’s web site. FN18

The following cities are analysed in case studies at programme and project levels:
• Arhus (Denmark)
• Bristol (United Kingdom)
• Carrara (Italy)
• Crotone (Italy)
• Dortmund (Germany)
• Gijon (Spain)
• Graz (Austria)
• Halifax (United Kingdom)
• Le Havre (France)
• Le Mantois (France)
• Leipzig (Germany)
• Perama (Greece)
• Porto Gondomar (Portugal)
• Rotterdam (Netherlands
• Sambreville (Belgium)

Among the various interesting findings of the report, the evaluation study provides a cluster analysis in two groups, defined by the balance of spending allocated across the five main regeneration themes of URBAN II: (i) physical and environmental regeneration; (ii) transport infrastructures; (iii) social regeneration; (iv) economic regeneration; and, (v) ICT.

These groups are as follows:

  • Cluster 1: Focus on economic and social regeneration (but also with some spending on physical regeneration) – programmes with generally high spending on social inclusion and entrepreneurship/employment, and relatively lower spending on ICT and physical and environmental regeneration. This cluster contained 40 programmes.

  • Cluster 2: Physical regeneration (driven by physical or transport priorities) – programmes with high spending on physical environment, and a relatively low spending on social inclusion and entrepreneurship/employment. This cluster contained 30 programmes.

Cluster 1 and its 40 programmes adopted an integrated approach close to local development and area-based strategies, by bringing together, through projects and partnership structures, physical, economic and social challenges and interventions (e.g. reusing redundant spaces and buildings for business centres or new community facilities).

There is strong evidence from field work that the URBAN II ‘method’ - integration, multi-agency approach, stakeholder engagement, etc. - was the main success factor. Interviews showed that stakeholders referred to critical success factors in terms of how the community was involved in decisions, how the programme encouraged multi-agency partnership working, how programmes focused on tightly defined areas, and how problems were approached in an integrated way. All of these elements came together, to varying degrees to characterise an approach or method by which many URBAN II programmes were developed and implemented. Many of the principles involved were relatively new to the local urban development agenda of host cities, and URBAN II stimulated new partnerships, new methods for engaging with local residents and new projects that combined an economic and physical focus in a way not seen before in many of the host cities.

Furthermore, the analysis of the governance and delivery mechanisms of URBAN II is pleading for a local development model:

  • Based on our analysis of all 70 programmes, local authorities had the lead responsibility for programme delivery in 80% of cases, organised directly through a department, or (and most frequently) through a bespoke programme management team employed by the local authority.

  • On a few occasions a third party (e.g. a private organisation) was commissioned through the local authority. Local authorities played a lead role in the delivery of 40% of the projects funded through URBAN II, especially the large and more complex physical regeneration and infrastructure projects.

  • The local approach to the delivery of URBAN II was a strong feature allowing for a more flexible bottom-up style of delivery that focused on local issues and engaged local partners. It also helped in the involvement of community organisations, some of whom felt alienated from the workings of national and regional bodies.

  • The scope programme managers and their teams had for influencing policy makers within their cities was mixed. This was more difficult where the programme areas were a small part of the city.

  • Furthermore, it was generally difficult to engage key city policy makers or strategic players – who had a city wide or sub-regional interest – in the workings of URBAN II.

  • Strong partnerships were central to the success of URBAN II programmes. Of the 15 case studies, 13 had strong and inclusive partnerships. This translated into an active involvement of a range of partners from the public (all programmes had partners from this cohort), private and community sectors. Strong partnerships were in a position to influence and shape the development of URBAN II programmes from an early stage, from strategy development through to project implementation.

  • Partnership size was not seen as an issue (10-15 core partners was commonplace) as long as partners were active and were geared up to playing a full role (including leading sub-committees and having a responsibility for specific elements of the programme).

  • Capacity building was important in forming strong partnerships. Typically this was focused on voluntary and community organisations (in 9 of the case studies) and involved training and informal learning through joint working. Some of the training was technical (including employment and tax law) and in other cases community organisations were supported during project delivery in order to build their capacity. Local authority officials also benefited from training programmes.

  • In most cases the formal programme management ceased after URBAN II funding ended as did some of the partnership structures, although not immediately. This is not surprising and nor is it necessarily negative – URBAN II was intended to create the conditions for sustainable urban development, rather than offer indefinite support to organisational structures. Anyway, there is evidence of continuing regeneration activity in all of the case studies, delivered by local organisations once URBAN II had finished, and of regeneration skills, learnt by participants being put to good use elsewhere, often in other neighbourhoods in the city.

  • Local communities were consulted on elements of the programmes in 10 of the case studies, although consultation in the early stages of programme development was often not carried through to subsequent stages. Most programmes engaged with community organisations but the active involvement of residents in programme management and formal partnership activities proved more difficult to achieve.

The evaluation conclusions, and the policy and delivery lessons are relevant for national programmes, as well as in the debates on the future of EU cohesion policy, including the merits of area-based programmes compared to 'traditional' regional development programmes.

“The process of developing and implementing URBAN II programmes taught many urban development practitioners about new ways to approach urban decline and helped them to understand the benefits of, for example, adopting an integrated approach, building up partnerships of organisations or consulting and engaging with local people during the regeneration of their neighbourhoods. This process was far from perfect and there was scope for improvement at all levels from the limited participation of key 'strategic' regional and city levels in many programmes to difficulties in getting the active involvement of local residents in projects and the programme overall, in some programmes. Practice varied but in most cases the local authorities provided the administrative 'glue' to bring partners together through the provision of programme secretariat and often, the programme manager”.

The more successful partnerships were those which brought together a number of partners to tackle challenges from a range of different angles (e.g. high female unemployment tackled by childcare providers, employers, training organisations and local community organisations). Some partnerships had developed from existing networks but in many cases URBAN II was the main reason and stimulant for new inter-agency working. This multi-agency approach was again highlighted as a common critical success factor.

8. Socially responsible territories: a new paradigm for local development

A recent monograph FN13 investigates the link between the social economy and sustainable area-based development at local, in a European context. It aims to demonstrate the importance of the various scales of governance in the field of social economy, highlighting the influence of European policies at local level. It provides a conceptual and analytical basis for sustainable local development as well as some tools and good practice on its implementation.

The social economy, Agenda 21 and community development are three approaches which are compared and analysed in this study. Even though these approaches share a common objective, their delivery tools do not interconnect. The study examines the links between the local area – whether a city neighbourhood or a rural area – and its stakeholders, in the way they favour economic, social, sustainable co-development (co-development could also be translated as ‘communal development’, in French ‘développement solidaire’).

The notion of Corporate Social responsibility – well developed since the 1970s and pushed forward by Jacques Delors in 1995 FN14– is taken to a further level with Socially Responsible Territories (SRT), characterised by the integration of the principles of sustainable development into local action plans implemented by local authorities. This social responsibility therefore rests upon four pillars: economic, social, environmental, participative.

Each concept and analysis is illustrated by examples coming from various EU Member States.

Social enterprises are viewed as a crucial element of the capacity of local stakeholders to respond to the crisis. A link with the EU2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth is also made.
Links to 20 good practice examples described in the study:

1. Implementation of an Agenda 21 plan in a seaside resort – Calvia, Spain
2. Local Agenda 21 plan in a social centre (CPAS) – Brussels (Woluwe-Saint-Lambert), Belgium
3. Social Innovation Lab in Kent (UK)
4. Community empowerment programme ‘Learn, participate and trust’ – Pact Foundation, Romania
5. Strengthening citizens’ local participation – Sara Park, Birmingham (UK)
6. Inter-generation dialogue in a disadvantaged neighbourhood – Delft, Netherlands
7. Microcredit for social financing at BBK – Bilbao, Spain
8. A social enterprise to boost community development in a deprived area – Glasgow, Scotland (UK)
9. Promotion of gender equality through a « women’s office » – Cartagena, Spain
10. ‘O %’ fossil energy – Kristianstad, Sweden
11. Water sewage rehabilitation – Plovdiv, Bulgaria
12. Sustainable and participative regeneration of a deprived urban area – Aalborg, Denmark
13. The Seacroft Partnership – Leeds, England (UK)
14. Casablanco – Brussels, Belgium
15. Public Policies and Social Enterprises –Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Germany, Romania
16. Città e Salute – Milano, Italy
17. Home services and support in rural areas – Belgium
18. Training and inclusion scheme for women through services to dependent persons – Navarra, Spain
19. Sherwood Energy Village – Ollerton (England), UK
20. Ecosviluppo – Stezzano (Italy)

9. Cities of tomorrow – Challenges, visions, ways forward

This study was commissioned by the European Commission (Directorate General for Regional Policy). The 116-page publication was released in October 2011. FN15 The key points can be summarised as follows:
• Cities are key to the sustainable development of the European Union;
• The European model of sustainable urban development is under threat;
• There are opportunities to turn the threats into positive challenges;
• New forms of governance are essential to respond to these urban challenges.

The link with local and community-led development is intrinsic to many of the findings, as this introductory paragraphs reveal:
Europe is characterised by a more polycentric and less concentrated urban structure compared to, for instance, the USA or China. There are 23 cities of more than 1 million inhabitants and 345 cities of more than 100 000 inhabitants in the European Union, representing around 143 million people. Only 7 % of the EU population live in cities of over 5 million inhabitants compared to 25 % in the USA. In addition, 56 % of the European urban population –around 38 % of the total European population – live in small and medium-sized cities and towns of between 5 000 and 100 000 inhabitants.

The study starts by introducing a set of shared visions, one of which being that ‘European Cities of tomorrow are places of green, ecological or environmental regeneration with regenerated urban local economies, diversified local production systems, local labour market policies, and development and exploitation of endogenous economic forces in the neighbourhoods, which consume local green products and have short consumption circuits’ (p.11).

It pleads for managing transitions towards a viable local economy, explaining that ‘if a decoupling of economic and social development and increasing polarisation within cities are to be avoided, new paradigms of economic development are needed that will emphasise the domestic urban economy. Such an economy would not depend solely on export-oriented sectors but build to a higher degree on development of endogenous resources. One of the crucial issues for the diversification of the local economy is the extent of economic surplus from current economic activities, how it is distributed, and the governance mechanisms affecting how it is fed back into the city’s further development. In addition, collective goods, i.e. public goods or goods that are not exchanged in the market but are self-produced and exchanged within small groups such as a family, club or social network or association, are of great importance, and are always underplayed in economic analyses that focus on GDP alone. These play a crucial role in quality of life and are often significant in economic development. The Cities of tomorrow must not only understand the city’s development potential, but also find innovative ways of exploiting it and directing it towards shared objectives and ownership of strategies. Cities have to develop more varied and sensitive indicators to better understand problems and the potential inherent in the local economy and its resources. They must also mobilise stakeholders and citizens in collective and participative planning and visioning exercises. Foresight and other strategic planning tools can play a key role in this’ (p.49).

Local community-led development approaches are seen as a tool for collective mobilisation around a European urban development model: ‘Area-based local community-led development approaches are focused on supporting endogenous development processes, i.e. stimulating development from within by external support, facilitating innovative local solutions. Unlike local authority-led initiatives, they build on a stronger role, commitment and engagement of the community itself and are not necessarily confined within administrative borders. As such they are able to also take on wider and more long-term economic development strategies’ (p.81).

The analysis is supported by evidence gathered through 10 cases studies:FN16

1. Rethinking diversity policy to strengthen social cohesion and tackle the risk of segregation – The case of Amsterdam, the Netherlands;
2. Transportation as part of urban cohesion policies – The case of Barcelona, Spain ;
3. Upgrading the international position of the city and its region by attracting highly qualified people and activities – The case of Brno, Czech Republic;
4. Reorganising cultural industries and revitalising local manufacturing traditions in order to redefine the city’s international position – The case of Florence, Italy;
5. Improving and integrating local SMEs in order to sustain the economic revitalisation of the city based on knowledge society – The case of Gliwice, Poland;
6. The consolidation of a post socialist urban regeneration with decreasing subsidies – The case of Leipzig, Germany;
7. Response of a city to the financial crisis – The case of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, United Kingdom;
8. Capacity of a group of cities to attract diverse economic activities, among which many service industries, in the view of providing employment to local dwellers of a deprived area in transition – The case of Plaine Commune adjacent to the northern edge of Paris, France;
9. Urban foresight based on public participation as a tool for integrating local residents’ requirements on their own neighbourhood into the Master Plan of the city – The case of Molinay 2017, Seraing, Belgium;
10. Sustainable energy policies as part of a model for managing complex urban change – The case of Växjö, Sweden.

10. Concluding remarks

This paper has screened a significant body of recent studies on local development and the local development approach. Although it has not covered academic research it has been able to distil the most pertinent points on local development and the local development approach that have emerged from two groups of studies completed in the last two years: EU studies specifically on LD, starting with the seminal ADETEF Study (section 2); and the ex-post evaluations which have comprehensively covered EU initiatives in the 2000-2006 period, including aspects of relevance to local development and the local development approach. It has additionally benefited from looking into two very recent European level studies: Socially responsible territories; and Cities of tomorrow.

The studies covered in this paper vary in their remit and raise diverse points. Even so, they also underline the key features of LD, such as being area based, involving a broad partnership and enjoying a local remit, as well as its broad scope (multi-dimensional, “beyond economic development”). In this respect it is worth noting the latest formulation on the local development approach put forward by the most recent of the studies (on the contribution of LD to ERDF - section 4), which states that the local development approach is based on the following four points:

  • It is a social and political process whose goal is the social and economic development of disadvantaged areas.
  • It is place based in the sense that it should necessarily refer to a specific territory in which there are resources that can be exploited in order to reach the development goal.
  • It entails the ability to link together a number of different sectoral policies.
  • It implies the mobilisation of a plurality of different actors at the local level.

The studies explore, define and debate the different aspects of, and issues associated with LD up to the latest turn in LD, the “community-led local development” (CLLD), which appears prominently in the proposals of the EC for the 2014-2020 period. For instance, Cities of tomorrow (section 9) distinguishes CLLD from local authority led LD in the following terms: “Area-based local community-led development approaches are focused on supporting endogenous development processes, i.e. stimulating development from within by external support, facilitating innovative local solutions. Unlike local authority-led initiatives, they build on a stronger role, commitment and engagement of the community itself and are not necessarily confined within administrative borders. As such they are able to also take on wider and more long-term economic development strategies”.

Overall, the studies stress the great potential and value of LD, even in the case of EU Initiatives whose approach did not entail an area-based approach or other LEADER-type attributes (section 5). In the case of URBAN II (section 7)“Cluster 1 and its 40 programmes ... with a focus on economic and social regeneration ... adopted an integrated approach close to local development and area-based strategies, by bringing together, through projects and partnership structures, physical, economic and social challenges and interventions (e.g. reusing redundant spaces and buildings for business centres or new community facilities)” and “there is strong evidence from fieldwork that the URBAN II ‘method’ - integration, multi-agency approach, stakeholder engagement, etc. - was the main success factor”. Similarly, in the case of EQUAL (section 6) it was noted that it “has promoted local multi-stakeholder partnerships to tackle not only employment issues... New co-operative mechanisms for tackling social exclusion have also been set up. This has probably been one of the major areas of achievement of EQUAL”.

Nevertheless, the studies show that it remains difficult to fully evaluate the benefits of LD. Technical and methodological constraints, such as the lack of suitable monitoring and evaluation indicators, have been mentioned, for instance, in the case of the ESF/LEI study (section 3).

Broader doubts have also been raised in the interim report of the LD/ERDF study (section 4). Its interim report questions the claim that the main strengths of a local development approach centred on the mobilisation of local partnership are its resilience and low cost of implementation, and points out potential counter-balancing weaknesses such as size (“too small”), timeline (“too long to measure substantial success”) and risk of collusion (“a loose collection of people and organisations with conflicting interests held together by the prospect of securing government money”). It also puts the spotlight on the potential limitations of LD if pursued in a purely systems approach, i.e. relying on self-organising and self-regulating in the context of free competition (see Theoretical Perspectives), which could mean “what we can expect from LDA is a continuous generation of development winners and development losers”. This is a debate which is continuing also on other sections of the LDnet site (see the arguments for complementary policies for redistributing and equalising development in Towards new ideas for the LD approach).

Finally, the european/local level interplay is a constant feature in the perspective of all the studies, including Socially responsible territories, the only study covered by this paper which was not officially connected to the EU (section 9). Even within a top-down policy framework, local development emerges with a “local personality” – a strong bottom-up dimension, local ownership of strategy and adaptation of EU priorities and policies to meet local needs. This is reflected in the methodologies of the studies examined in this chapter which rely extensively on case studies. The prominence of case studies is perhaps symptomatic of the diversity and richness of the local development approach and, also, acts as a reminder of why it is so difficult to standardise LD and measure its outcomes.


Section 2
1 Workshop contribution from Nick Porter, November 2009. Further information on the LGA’s work on the future of EU funds is available online: www.lga.gov.uk/euregionalpolicy(external link)

Section 3
2 www.transitionnetwork.org/(external link) . The Transition Towns movement is an example of socioeconomic localisation.
3 In Austria, TEPs are strongly linked to social affairs, welfare policies, education, migration and poverty. In Wales (UK), the Child Poverty Strategy, the Wales National Homelessness Strategy and the UK Social Inclusion National Action Plan display links to Welsh OPs
4 In Spain for instance, Local Employment Plans receive ESF support for a population size of 50,000 inhabitants maximum
5 www.livsval.nu(external link)
6 Such as the OECD LEED book on Evaluating Local Economic and Employment Development, 2004.
7 Evaluation of the European Social Fund Interventions in Germany Programming Period 2000 – 2006, OP of the Federal Government Objective 1, Update of the Mid-Term Evaluation, Final Report – Executive Summary 2005 (page xxiii).
8 http://www.ine.es/en/prensa/np573_en.pdf(external link) – Back in 2008, Andalusia showed the second highest rates of risk of poverty (28.9%) among Spanish Autonomous Communities, after Extremadura with 38.4%.
9 http://www.fundacion-biodiversidad.es/inicio/emplea-verde/buscador-empleaverde/103470(external link)
10 The term ‘locavore’ made its entry into the 2008 version of New Oxford American Dictionary and refers to people who prefer to eat locally grown/produced food, in a collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies.

Section 4
11 Call for tenders by open procedure n°2010.CE.16.0.AT.054 – Study on the contribution of local development in delivering interventions co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the periods 2000-06 and 2007-13. Inception Report– IRS & IGOP – Milan, March 2011.
12 http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/evaluation/pdf/eval2007/local_dev_interim.pdf(external link)

Section 5
19 http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/eval/reports/leaderplus-expost/index_en.htm(external link)

Section 6
17 http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/equal/data/document/eva-eu-sum_en.pdf(external link)

Section 7
18http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/evaluation/pdf/expost2006/urbanii/final_report.pdf(external link)

Section 8
13 ‘Territoires et solidarités : un enjeu européen’- Analyse des politiques et des bonnes pratiques européennes en matière de responsabilité sociétale des territoires – published by CIDES, the resource centre for CHORUM, a French mutual insurance company for social enterprises & the Think Thank Pour la Solidarité – authors : Vanessa DEWAELE, Audrey HOUSSIERE, Jean-Baptiste MOUGEL and Denis STOKKINK, Paris, November 2011 (French).
14 Delors mentions corporate responsibility to fight against social exclusion. Later, a Communication from the Commission provides a definition of this concept which can be applied to any type of structure, be it economic, political, not for profit, etc. ‘Social responsibility is a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis’ (COM/2002/0347 – page 6).

Section 9
15 http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/studies/pdf/citiesoftomorrow/citiesoftomorrow_final.pdf(external link)
16 http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/studies/pdf/citiesoftomorrow/citiesoftomorrow_case.pdf(external link)

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