BrabantStad EUROCITIES´newest member
BrabantStad Metropolitan Area, an economically thriving region in the southof The Netherlands, is one of EUROCITIES’ newest members. What’s unique aboutBrabantStad is that it is an alliance of cities formed by Breda, Eindhoven,Helmond, ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Tilburg and the local government of Brabant. Thealliance aims to achieve sustainable growth in all aspects of the city’seconomic, spatial, social and cultural life. Collaboration is focused onaddressing important regional development issues that the cities and province,alone, would have been unable to achieve.
BrabantStad is well-known for promoting innovation and R&D. It attracts25% of all foreign knowledge economy-related investments in The Netherlands andits sophisticated public transport network is one of the first in Europe to usebuses that run exclusively on clean energy. Lily Jacobs, President of the Boardof BrabantStad, shares her views on priorities for the next couple of years andexplains what prompted their decision to join EUROCITIES.
Q1. What factors motivated BrabantStad’s decision to join EUROCITIES?
In February 2008 BrabantStad joined EUROCITIES as an associated partner. Wehave since been very pleased with the opportunity to share knowledge and ideaswith other European cities, to exchange experiences, to analyse common problemsand to develop innovative solutions. Now as a full member, we are keen to expandour involvement in the network’s forums and activities. Cooperation and sharingcommon interests with other cities and regions are very important to us.
Q2. What does BrabantStad bring to EUROCITIES?
As a Metropolitan area comprising the five biggest cities and the provincialgovernment in Brabant, BrabantStad has a wealth of experience and skills toshare in this new form of local governance. BrabantStad also has a lot ofexpertise in the areas of innovation, R&D and environmentally-friendlypublic transport. Last but not least, we are also experienced in promoting localand regional culture.
Q3. Will public transport continue as one of the city’s priorities?Are there other priorities in the pipeline?
Our mission is to continue developing as a strong international competitive andsustainable urban network. To achieve this, we’ve set the following priorities:
- To create a balance between the urban and green environment;
- To be a sustainable and climate-proof region;
- To provide top (business)facilities for the economy, culture and sports;
- To be a leading knowledge and innovation region on a European scale;
- To facilitate internal and external mobility, including public transport andsafety measures for low speed traffic;
- To be a strong network.
Public transport is one of our main focuses and in this field, BrabantStadhas collaborated recently with the regions of Kent (UK) and Nord-Pas-de-Calais(FR), through the European Network of High Speed Regions (ENHSR).
Q4. Has the city’s engagement in European and internationalactivities changed in the face of the economic crisis?
No, on the contrary! We try to develop innovative solutions on issues such asunemployment and ‘social inclusion’. For example, with our ‘Brainport’organisation in Eindhoven (www.brainport.nl), we have recently developed aprogramme to improve the mobility of people in the labour market. We believethat our agenda for BrabantStad’s future supports our European goals, in thatwe focus on areas - climate and energy, sustainable economic growth, jobsecurity and sustainable public transport - that are crucial to the lives ofall our citizens. Our European contacts and networks such as EUROCITIES, plusaccess to European funding, together, help us to achieve our aims in thisrespect.
Q5. Could you give an example of a successful programme orinitiative the city has undertaken, which you’d like to share?
Yes, I am proud to mention the following example. In June 2009, Dutch cabinetminister of Economic Affairs opened the High Tech Automotive (HTA) Campus inHelmond, one of BrabantStad's partner cities. This HTACampus in Helmond is achallenging, inspiring and high quality environment where automotive knowledgeand business come together. It provides an open innovation home for automotivecompanies and automotive education institutes as well as public and privateresearch centres. The HTA Campus is a result of cooperation between localgovernment, industrial companies and educational institutions. The AutomotiveHouse was made possible by financial contributions from the European Fund forRegional Development, and from national, regional and local governments.
Last but not least, BrabantStad is aiming for the title of Cultural Capitalof Europe in 2018. You’ll certainly experience more of this ambition and actionduring the coming years!
By: Eva da Costa,