By Hans Schlappa, Aston University
This paper builds on the empirical data collected through a doctoral study which examined the implementation of European policy in the context of urban renewal initiatives. The paper argues that public agencies have considerable room to manoeuvre in choosing their approach towards involving third sector organisations (TSOs) in the delivery of European Union funded urban renewal initiatives, and that a commissioning approach towards the delivery of such programmes limits the scope for TSOs to contribute to the inclusion of marginalised communities.
The findings reported here are based on a cross-national case study which analysed the work of nine TSOs delivering URBAN II funded initiatives in three European cities: Berlin, Belfast and Bristol. The data were collected through in depth case studies of nine TSOs, and included 44 semi-structured interviews with staff from TSOs and public agencies responsible for the local delivery of the URBAN II programme.
TSOs have a substantial profile in current European policy (Commission of the European Communities, 2005, 2006, 2006a) and their important contribution towards social inclusion in the renewal of deprived urban neighbourhoods is increasingly recognized (EuroCities and Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik, 2007). The paper puts forward the argument that a commissioning approach based on a paradigm of social enterprise (Evers and Laville, 2004; Nyssens, 2006) limits the ability of TSOs to define for themselves who should be targeted and how such groups could be engaged. This tends to reduce the capacity of TSOs to bring about social inclusion, and in addition, such an approach undermines the development of sustainable civil society structures which are critically important to engender social cohesion (Taylor et al., 2007). Public agencies responsible for the local delivery of European Union funded urban regeneration initiatives therefore need to be made aware of these implications, and receive support in developing approaches which enable TSOs to contribute towards social inclusion and social cohesion in European cities.
Before coming to the UK in the mid 1980s, Hans obtained a degree in town and country planning at the Technische Universität Berlin in which he focused on resident involvement in the urban renewal process. Since then he has worked for third sector as well as public sector organisations leading on the delivery of urban renewal initiatives in a number of cities in England. In 2001 he took his masters degree in public services management at Aston Business School and took up the post of Research Manager for the Aston Centre for Voluntary Action Research in 2004. He is currently working on a part time basis for the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University while writing up his PhD thesis on the impact of European Union funding on third sector organisations.
Commission of the European Communities (2005) Working Together for Growth and Jobs: A new start for the Lisbon strategy, COM (2005) 24. Commission of the European Communities, Brussels
Commission of the European Communities (2006) Regions for Economic Change, Communication from the Commission (COM(2006)675 final), Brussels
Commission of the European Communities (2006a) Third Report on Economic and Social Cohesion: A new partnership for cohesion, convergence and competitiveness, Brussels
EuroCities, Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik (2007) Leipzig Memo. Proceeding of a conference organised jointly by Euro Cities and the Deutsches Institut für Urbanistic, Leipzig
Evers A, Laville JL, eds (2004) The Third Sector in Europe. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham
Nyssens M, ed (2006) Social Enterprise: At the Crossroads of Market, Public Policies and Civil Society. Routledge, London
Taylor M, Wilson M, Purdue D, Wilde P (2007) Changing Neighbourhoods: Lessons from the JRF Neighbourhood Programme. Policy Press, Bristol
Hans' presentation is available here (Powerpoint format).