Should the European Union have an urban policy? This is a tricky question, given the highly local issues that pertain in many European cities and the principle of subsidiarity dominating European policy, which states that the lead on policy must be devolved to the lowest decision-making level. The European Union has, in fact, no urban policy properly so-called, but, as Jean-François Drevet reminds us here, it has been intervening in urban matters for some 20 years.
After a number of pilot schemes, in 1994 the European Commission launched a specific Action Programme called "Urban", which was relaunched for the period 2000-2006 and is outlined in this column. Since 2007, the Commission has intervened in urban matters mainly through regional policy and as part of efforts to improve the competitiveness of European territories. In future, it will probably be the (territorial, social and economic) cohesion policy that will be called upon to play a specific role in urban questions.
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