PURPLE and friends at Open Days 2015

Oct 30, 2015


PURPLE partner regions and others recently mobilised themselves to promote and defend the interests of peri-urban areas as part of the 13th Week of Regions and Cities (OPEN DAYS).

Under the leadership of Ile-de-France, a project consortium comprising Brandenburg and Frankfurt RheinMain (Germany), Randstad (the Netherlands), Nord-Pas-de-Calais (France), Surrey (England) and Bjelovar-Bilogora (Croatia) combined to deliver a public seminar entitled The Urban Agenda & ESIF 2014-2020:  Involving peri-urban territories in order to boost urban-rural links generously and expertly hosted by the Randstad region in the House of the Dutch Provinces.

Speakers included two Members of the European Parliament, together with representatives of both the European Commission and the forthcoming Dutch EU presidency – PURPLE and the individual consortium members are extremely grateful to them as well as to those who came and spoke about “on the ground” experiences of urban-rural integration measures in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.

Although PURPLE and its members continue to have deep reservations about the use of terminology such as “urban-rural links” and the refusal on the part of some to move beyond the old rural – urban duality, the event proved a hugely successful opportunity to make the peri-urban case and to receive endorsement of that case from many of our speakers and contributors from the floor.

The event itself was over-subscribed and drew an audience of over one hundred delegates from more than ten countries and from all sectors:  when considered that any one OPEN DAYS event is part of a large programme of overlapping workshops and seminars held across Brussels and beyond, that in itself is a significant achievement.

Delegates heard PURPLE president Helyn Clack remind those present that Urban Policy is not just policy for cities and that In PURPLE we know and understand that Europe cannot be simply broken into territories of different types and labelled, “urban”, “rural”, “remote” or anything else. Mrs Clack went on to point out that “Any urban agenda should include a consideration of urban impacts on surrounding/nearby territories and vice versa”, she concluded by suggesting that peri-urban regions such as those represented in PURPLE have a huge amount to offer those involved in urban policy development in terms of lessons learned, experience, successes, and ongoing best practice development, and that PURPLE wants to see that used for everyone’s benefit.

Pierre KANUTY, President of Ile-de-France Europe, concluded the event by reminding those present of the challenges ahead. How is the territorial focus to be safeguarded in future cohesion policy and how is specific attention to be paid to the critical contribution of peri-urban areas such as those represented in PURPLE? M. Kanuty expressed the continued frustration of seeing the acknowledgment of the key role of peri-urban areas acknowledged in many policy pronouncements and by many of the event’s speakers, not translated into concrete reality within funding programmes and similar, but concluded nevertheless that progress has been made and there is cause for optimism if our hard work continues to win support.