Today's complex and global challenges (climate change, digitalisation, pandemic impacts, demographic changes) call for a new forward-looking paradigm that benefits from collective thinking, knowledge and action.

In response to these challenges, the New European Bauhaus outlines the EU's ambition of creating beautiful, sustainable and inclusive places, products and ways of living. Born to bring a cultural and creative dimension to the European Green Deal, President Von der Leyen recently referred to this initiative as the ?soul?of the European Green Deal.

An explosion of creativity

The New European Bauhaus started with an initial 6-month co-creation process that gave all interested people the opportunity to share their views on what should be taken on board for the project. This proved an effective way to connect to the matters of care and concerns of people. The open call brought to light a wealth of existing experiences, ideas and visions of thousands of people from all over the world on what makes our living spaces and life styles beautiful, sustainable and inclusive. A vibrant community started to evolve around the initiative that spread the conversation from the local level to the international level, creating perspectives across sectors and contexts.

Three key principles emerged from this collective effort.

A multilevel approach to transformation- from global to local. Clim ate change and the green transition bring challenges that should be addressed globally. However, it is at the local level that change is happening and makes sense for people. The New European Bauhaus therefore addresses different levels of transformation, from global to neighbourhood, village and city. It follows a place-based approach.

A participatory approach, which involves civil society and people of all ages in all their diversity. This necessary focus on inclusion is aimed at leaving no one behind and acknowledges that the most creative solutions are born from collective thinking.

A transdisciplinary approach. The New European Bauhaus is about bridging silos between viewpoints and professions. Meaningful transformation requires many competencies and knowledge. Working and learning across disciplines facilitates the cross-fertilisation of ideas, knowledge, skills and methods.

Commission Communication on the New European Bauhaus

Inspired by the intense and fruitful co-creation process, on 15 Septem ber an important milestone was reached: the European Commission adopted the Communication on the New European Bauhaus. In addition to core values and key principles, the rich diversity of conversations allowed the European Commission to identify four thematic axes that are important to citizens and will guide the further development of the initiative: reconnecting with nature, regaining a sense of belonging, prioritising the places and people that need it most and the need for long-term, life cycle thinking in the industrial ecosystem.

"About EUR 85 million from EU programmes will be dedicated to New European Bauhaus project s in 2021-22, including on "light house demonstrator's and social housing."

The exchanges also allowed the three levels of interconnected transformations expected from the initiative to be defined: changes in places around us, changes in the environment that enable innovation and changes in the diffusion of new meanings.

What is in it for cities and regions?

The actions set out in the Communication can contribute to enhanced cohesion at local and regional levels.

The New European Bauhaus Lab that will be set up will play a role in engaging the community in testing and experimenting new solutions and policy actions that will have a concrete impact on the ground.

The next editions of the New European Bauhaus Prizes and the New European Bauhaus Festival (the latter to be piloted next year) will be other ways for local and regional authorities to raise awareness and trigger interest in the movement.

A package of financial opportunities will also support the expected transformations thanks to a number of calls for which several EU programmes have joined forces. About EUR 85 million from EU programmes will be dedicated to New European Bauhaus projects in 2021–22, including on ‘lighthouse demonstrators’ and social housing. In 2022, additional New European Bauhaus demonstrators will be supported by cohesion policy’s European Urban initiative. Regional and local administrations will also be able to apply for technical assistance to develop and deliver New European Bauhaus projects, with a focus on citizen engagement and interdisciplinary methods for project incubation and co-design. The European Commission will also explore how to best support small-scale initiatives, building on the work of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

In addition to the dedicated calls, many EU programmes will integrate the initiative as an element of context or priority, without a predefined budget.

"Born to bring a cultural and creative dimension to the European Green Deal, President Von der Leyen recently referred to this initiative as the 'soul 'of the European Green Deal"

Some other actions are particularly relevant to cities and regions, for instance a peer learning action to help local authorities integrate and implement quality principles in the built environment or the development of a dedicated urban development financial instrument leveraging EU and private investment to support New European Bauhaus projects in Member States. This new instrument, beyond project financing, will also support training and project implementation.

At the same time, it is important to highlight that, for the success of the implementation of the initiative on the ground and to speed up cohesion between regions, the cooperation of national as well as regional and local authorities will be crucial. From promoting participatory co-design processes to supporting the financing of local transformation projects, the New European Bauhaus will require strong cooperation from all levels of government. The mobilisation of the instruments of Cohesion Policy will be complemented by the networking of the relevant stakeholders for mutual learning and support. 

This article appears in the EURegionsWeek 2021 Issue of TerritoriALL

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This article appears in the EURegionsWeek 2021 Issue of TerritoriALL