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Action Planning network Call

Who are the eligible beneficiaries for the Action Planning network call?

European cities from the 28 Member States, Norway and Switzerland are the eligible beneficiaries of the Action Planning network call.
Under URBACT III, the beneficiary city refers to the public local authority representing:

  • Cities, municipalities, towns;
  • Infra-municipal tiers of government such as city districts and boroughs in cases where they are represented by a politico-administrative institution having competences for policy-making and implementation in the policy area covered by the URBACT network concerned in which they are willing to get involved;
  • Metropolitan authorities and organized agglomerations in cases where they are represented by a politico-administrative institution having delegated competences for policy-making and implementation in the policy area covered by the URBACT network.

For the specific purposes of this call for Action Planning networks, the beneficiary category ‘city’ also covers local agencies defined as public or semi-public organisations set up by a city, partially or fully owned by the city authority, and responsible for the design and implementation of specific policies (economic development, energy supply, health services, transport, etc.).

In addition to city partners, Action Planning networks can also include a limited number of other beneficiaries (non-city partners). In the case of Action Planning networks, non-city partners as defined below are eligible:

  • Provincial, regional and national authorities, as far as urban issues are concerned;
  • Universities and research centres, as far as urban issues are concerned.

The partnership may include 2 non-city partners maximum.

Is there a city size limit for applying to URBACT calls for proposals?

There is no limit of population size for cities wishing to participate in URBACT activities. The calls are open to all cities, regardless of their size.
In addition, cities with no previous URBACT experience are particularly encouraged to apply.

Can non-EU cities participate as partners in URBACT Action Planning networks?
  • Partner States - Norway and Switzerland - are eligible beneficiaries but they cannot make use of ERDF allocations:
    - Partners from Switzerland can be co-financed at 50% by a national fund;
    - Norwegian partners may participate in Action Planning networks at their own cost for this call. The situation for Norwegian co-funding will be reviewed on an annual basis by the competent authorities.
  • Partners from Instrument for Pre Accession (IPA) countries can participate in operations using IPA funding, without receiving ERDF co-financing.
  • Partners from other countries, anywhere in the world, can participate with their own funding.

Cities from IPA and other countries can be observer cities in the networks. This means they can be actively engaged but are not eligible for the ERDF budget to cover costs occurred by participating in the network activities.
There are two options to cover costs for observer cities:

  • The observer city to pay for their costs at their own costs (mainly travel & accommodation costs to participate in the transnational meetings, meeting organisation costs for possible meetings/workshops)
  • The Lead Partner to cover travel & accommodation costs through its budget, budget category "External Expertise and Services", budget line "Expert and other non-staff Travel". However, this should be agreed beforehand.
Can partners from the United Kingdom apply to this call?

UK partners are eligible to apply. However the specific nature of their participation and eligibility for funding will be determined by the competent authorities as part of the Brexit negotiations.

Are associations, charities, foundations, NGOs or private companies eligible as network partners?

The answer is usually no but you can contact us directly with more specific details at and we can respond on a case-by-case basis.
Such partners are often involved in the URBACT Local Groups of partner cities. 

Can a network be made of different cities from the same country?

Whilst not an eligibility criterion, geographical balance will be considered at the assessment stage against the criterion 2c) related to the quality of the partnership: the proposed partnership covers an appropriate mix of Member States (for example ensuring adequate coverage of Central and Eastern Europe, Northern, Western and Southern Europe). In cases where the geographical coverage is limited, this shall be clearly justified in the Phase 1 application.

Can a city be Lead Partner in a network and a Project Partner in another network?

A city can be Lead Partner of one Action Planning network only.

A city can be a Project Partner in no more than two approved Action Planning networks at a time.

This means that a city might be Lead Partner for one proposal and Project Partner in only one approved proposal (if a city is included as partner in more approved proposals then they would have to choose the network they would like to stay in, which could put the other network-s at risk). That is why, in any case, we recommend all Lead Partners to carefully check partners' relevance but also multiple commitments to avoid such a risk. If Lead Partners aim to use a questionnaire to select potential partners, then it is recommended to include a question such as: "Have you applied to other URBACT projects? Which one/s?" - see example here.

What is the size of the partnership for this call? Does the partnership have to be completed in Phase 1? Can partners be changed in Phase 2?

The partnership to be proposed for Phase 1 of an Action Planning network must include a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 10 partners from eligible Member and Partner States. One city will be designated as Lead Partner.
It has to be noted that contrary to the previous APN call, a full partnership shall be set up for the submission of the Phase 1 Application.

There is no partnership enlargement process in Phase 2 as such.
One of the main aims of the two-phase process for Action Planning networks is to provide networks approved for Phase 1 with the necessary time and resources to consolidate and review the relevance of their partnership for Phase 2.

The process of reviewing the partnership should be led by the Lead Partner with the Lead Expert support, which will be based on the partner visits for the baseline study. It is important to agree on the interpretation of the policy challenge at stake and develop a shared understanding around it.
In case of partner drop-outs in Phase 1, the network will have the possibility to find new partners. The network will also be able to add new partners during Phase 1 keeping in mind that the final partnership must include a maximum of 10 partners.

What is the budget available for an Action Planning network and how is it split between Phase 1 and Phase 2?

The total budget for the network combining Phase 1 (6-month preparatory phase) and Phase 2 (24-month project’s implementation phase) is set at a maximum of EUR 750 000. The total eligible cost for the Phase 1 of an Action Planning network is set at a maximum of EUR 150 000.

All partners need to confirm their commitment to engaging the funds needed to co-finance ERDF by way of a letter of commitment. The ERDF co-financing rate for an Action Planning network is calculated at network level on the basis of the different co-financing rates for each partner:

  • Partners from ‘more developed’ regions are co-financed up to 70% by ERDF;
  • Partners from ‘less developed’ and ‘transition’ regions are co-financed up to 85% by ERDF;
  • Partners from Switzerland are co-financed up to 50% by a Swiss national fund;
  • Norway is a partner state of the URBACT programme. Norwegian cities may participate in Action Planning networks at their own cost for this call;
  • The modalities of funding partners from the United Kingdom will be determined as part of the Brexit negotiations.

Each approved Action Planning network will have an additional allocation of EUR 127 500 to cover the costs of expertise over the lifetime of the network (Phase 1 and Phase 2). This expertise budget is in addition to the network budget.

For Phase 1, the expertise allocation available for each network will be limited to EUR 30 000 (40 days of expertise) for an expert who will support all the partners in the project development phase (baseline study, setting up URBACT Local Groups, and including participation in information and training sessions organised by the URBACT Secretariat).

What does URBACT expertise support mean?

The URBACT Programme provides each approved network with a specific financial envelope for the appointment of URBACT experts. The expert role is to support beneficiaries in designing and implementing transnational learning activities, to foster the local level uptake of the learning developed in transnational activities, and more generally to help deliver expected results. In Phase 1, it mainly consists in supporting the transnational exchange and learning process and the baseline study, designing the network methodology, reviewing the suitability of partners and helping with the identification and sharing of learning outputs.

Only one single expert, designated as Lead Expert, may be appointed. In Phase 1, no additional ad hoc experts may be appointed from the dedicated expertise budget.

Can an organisation rather than an individual be selected as an expert?

Only individuals can be/apply to become an URBACT Expert.

Appointed experts to be funded from a dedicated budget shall be selected from the pool of validated URBACT Experts.

New experts can apply to join the pool at any time using the following link. In order to be considered as an URBACT Lead Expert for this call, the expert application should be submitted before the deadline set as 17 April 2019.

If an expert is already involved in a Transfer network, are they available for this call?

Validated Lead Experts currently appointed in URBACT Transfer networks cannot be proposed for expertise services in Phase 1 of Action Planning networks. It has to be noted that experts can only be proposed for a maximum of 3 Action Planning networks. Project proposals should suggest 3 potential Lead Experts, one of whom should be female. Check the list of all available experts here.

The Lead Partner should contact the experts prior to submission to assess their relevance to the proposed network theme and seek in-principle agreement from them by means of a letter of intent (see Annex 4 of the Terms of Reference of the Call).

Is the call for Action Planning networks open to any topic?

As defined in the URBACT III Operational Programme, the thematic coverage of the URBACT III Programme 2014-2020 is in line with the Thematic Objectives (TO) of the EU Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020 and thus strongly linked with the pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy for innovative, sustainable and inclusive growth. A detailed description of the urban dimension of the 10 Thematic Objectives for EU Cohesion Policy 2014/2020 is available in Factsheet 1 of the URBACT III Programme Manual.

Applicants shall submit their proposal under one of the 10 listed Thematic Objectives, depending on the main policy challenge selected. When considered from an integrated approach perspective, all 10 topics are strongly inter-related.

Applicants are also encouraged to take into consideration, when relevant, how the network can link to the partnerships developed for the Urban Agenda for the European Union as well as to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

What is meant by designing and testing small scale solutions at local level?

The budget mainly covers exchange and learning activities inside the networks (mostly transnational meetings, production of network outputs but also local activities and meetings/workshops, production of an Integrated Action Plan). It is generally about practicing methods and tools to ensure effective design processes.

The URBACT Local Group (ULG) may enable designing and testing solutions explored at transnational level (education/awareness raising, sharing events with citizens, larger participative workshops for testing pilot actions, etc.) using a maximum budget EUR 5 000-10 000. However, URBACT does not finance physical investments.

How to apply to the URBACT Action Planning networks call?

The Action Planning networks Call is open between 7 January and 17 April 2019.
You can apply by filling in the forms requested on the online platform SYNERGIE-CTE.

In preparation for their Phase 1 Application, applicants are invited to refer to the following documents in addition to the Terms of Reference: