Pilot project: functional areas in the EU

European Commission and World Bank Group launched a pilot project to improve functional area approaches in the EU

The European Commission and the World Bank launched a pilot project to improve functional area approaches in the EU. The ‘Functional areas in the EU, crossing administrative boundaries for green transition and sustainable development’ project aims to strengthen the capacity of participants to plan and finance investments and services across jurisdictional boundaries for green transition and sustainable development.

Twelve functional areas from seven EU countries were selected to receive technical support within this project, namely Brno Metropolitan Area (Czech Republic), Zagreb Urban Agglomeration (Croatia), West Athens (Greece), Lake Balaton Area (Hungary), Kalisko-Ostrowska Agglomeration, Krakow Metropolitan Area (Poland), Jiu Valley and Jiu Conurbation Functional Area, Caraș-Timiș Functional Area, Cluj Metropolitan Area, Oradea Metropolitan Area, West Ialomița Functional Area (Romania), and the functional area of Trencin (Slovakia). This group contains both more mature and incipient functional areas, as well as urban and non-urban functional areas which have been selected out of a pool of fifty functional areas from eight member states that applied to be part of the project.

These functional areas will receive technical support in the coming year to develop and implement an action plan to address their key interjurisdictional development challenges. Furthermore, the project will promote knowledge exchange and will disseminate findings and workable solutions to other interested functional areas in the EU.

What is the role of the project?

The project starts from the understanding that development rarely follows administrative boundaries, and, in most cases, development efforts require inter-jurisdictional cooperation. As such, the project targets both urban and non-urban functional areas, with the aim to:

  1. support in addressing key development challenges;
  2. support in preparing and implementing 2021-2027 cohesion policy;
  3. disseminate the key lessons learned, as well as tools and approaches developed within the project to other functional areas;
  4. develop a toolkit that other FAs can use to strengthen their functional area approaches.
  5. organise knowledge exchange events in order to transfer findings and workable solutions to other interested functional areas in the EU.

Why are functional area approaches important for regional development?

We commute across localities for our everyday life as we often live elsewhere than where we work. We also use public services that are frequently organized for more than one local administration. Moreover, cities and territories in the EU look for new and innovative approaches to achieve just, green and digital transition, while having limited financial resources. Well-coordinated functional areas can help in all this, as they can achieve higher productivity, ensure more efficient use of resources and better access to quality public services.

The EU cohesion policy promotes functional area approaches, in particular through its new policy objective `Europe closer to citizens` and the various tools offered for integrated territorial development, including for sustainable urban development and for supporting disadvantaged areas.

With this project, the Commission encourages Member States to have a stronger focus on functional areas in their programmes to better respond to the needs and potentials of territories that may not be defined by one clear administrative boundary.

Join and follow the journey of the participating functional areas!