Is EU urban policy transforming urban regeneration in Spain?
Answers from an analysis
of the Iniciativa Urbana (2007-2013)

2017, Cities

Sonia de Gregorio Hurtado
Is EU urban policy transforming urban regeneration in Spain? Answers from an analysis of the Iniciativa Urbana (2007-2013).

Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning
Volume 60,
Part A,
February 2017,
Pages 402-414

Urban issues have been targeted by European Union (EU) policy action during the last three decades. The launch and implementation of the URBAN (1994–1999) and URBAN II Community Initiatives (2000–2007) introduced an innovative way of addressing urban challenges in many Member States, resulting in a relevant advancement in the field of urban regeneration.

With the end of the URBAN Community Initiative for the programming period 2007–2013, the urban dimension of EU policy was mainstreamed in the Operational Programmes of the Member States, giving them the chance to implement integrated urban regeneration initiatives in their cities by putting into practice the “URBAN method”.

This work stems from the recognition of the relevant contribution that the EU urban policy, and particularly the two rounds of URBAN, have made to urban regeneration in Spain, and aims to understand how the “URBAN method” was developed in the new scenario for 2007–2013 through the Iniciativa Urbana (the initiative launched by the Spanish Government to continue the transformative trend started by URBAN). This study focuses on understanding how this new instrument assumed and fostered the collaborative, integrated and innovative approach of URBAN as advised by the European Commission (EC). It also aims to understand whether through this instrument, the urban dimension of EU policy is contributing to face the traditional problems inherent to urban regeneration in the country.

In order to achieve the mentioned objectives, this study analyzes the launch of the Iniciativa Urbana (IU) by the Ministry of Finance on a national scale in 2007 and two IU programmes implemented in the region of Madrid (Leganés-La Fortuna and Madrid-Villaverde) through the development of case studies.

The study shows that the Iniciativa Urbana is not making relevant progress if compared with the programmes undertaken under URBAN II regarding the development of integrated, collaborative and innovative urban regeneration strategies. It also shows that it is leaving unsolved and partially unaddressed traditional problems regarding action in the urban environment in the country. The conclusions contribute to a reflection on the framework of the development of the Urban Agenda for Spain (at the moment in progress) and to a first assessment of the mainstreaming of the urban dimension in EU policies from 2007 in the context of the Member States.