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With voucher scheme, EU cities can get more involved with New European Bauhaus

With voucher scheme, EU cities can get more involved with New European Bauhaus

The European Commission has accepted to develop the idea

Last week, the European Committee of the Regions reported that an idea to involve European cities more intimately in the development of the New European Bauhaus movement has been adopted by the European Commission. The idea, proposed by CoR member and Cork City Councillor Kieran McCarthy (IE/EA) concerns the introduction of special vouchers, which will allow a particular city to co-organize NEB Labs on its territory and apply for support from the Commission.

Michaela Magas, a member of the EC's high-level roundtable on the new European Bauhaus, confirmed the European Commission would work together with the CoR on launching 100 vouchers for Bauhaus LABs across EU regions. "I'm grateful for the idea proposed by CoR to model it on the successful Wifi4EU initiative", Ms Magas said.

Bringing local governments into the fold

The New European Bauhaus movement was conceived by the European Commission with the idea to turn into a grassroots movement led by the citizens, associations and creative minds passionate about transforming the public spaces in a way that makes them future-ready. Thus, the Commission was keen to keep the private and public sectors to the side as mere observers.

Recently, however, this stance has been softened a bit with the creation of the Friends of the New European Bauhaus status, which allows public administrations and the for-profit sector to express at least a tacit interest in the initiative.

"The current call for local and regional authorities to get involved is welcome but lacks ambition. Sufficient resources from state budgets and EU cohesion policy programmes need to be allocated at local and regional level for New European Bauhaus", insists Kieran McCarthy.

The voucher scheme is still in the works and the details are unclear. However, it seems like a way for at least some local administrations to get the chance to participate more assertively in the process of testing new ideas and projects at the so-called NEB Labs.

This falls in line with findings from TheMayor.EU (an official partner to the initiative), as well. Speaking to officials from the Municipality of Varna in the autumn of 2021, we witnessed their disillusionment with the fact that despite seeing the benefits of the initiative they could provide little more than moral support to the creative communities on the ground.

The fact is that local and regional administrations are better equipped to harness and organize the creative potential present in their territories. They also have the know-how for dealing with the complex EU regulatory framework.

"I believe that the New European Bauhaus must become a real movement which involves local and regional authorities and is not just another top-down project. It must be a project for everyone, not just the few. To be successful, this exercise must be socially, culturally and territorially inclusive," summed up the idea Mr McCarthy.

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