International project METRO

Brno Metropolitan Area (BMA) was involved in the international research project ESPON METRO – The role and future perspectives of cohesion policy in the strategic planning of metropolitan areas and cities from June 2019 to March 2022. The project aimed to examine the relationship between metropolitan planning and the implementation of cohesion policy.

The ESPON METRO project focused on metropolitan areas in the European Union in an effort to strengthen their role and influence in the decision-making process for the 2021+ programming period and in cohesion and regional policy in general.

In addition to Brno Metropolitan Area, the following metropolitan areas were part of the project:

  • Turin (main coordinator),
  • Barcelona,
  • Brussels,
  • Lisbon,
  • Lyon,
  • Gdaňsk-Gdynia-Sopot,
  • Florence and
  • Riga.

The aim of the research project was to provide evidence on how metropolitan areas can contribute to the achievement of specific cohesion policy objectives through their agenda, so that European metropolitan areas are key actors in the design of programmes and strategies to implement cohesion policy. A sub-objective of the project was to describe the added value of applying cohesion policy at metropolitan level and to provide an analysis of how cohesion policy should integrate the metropolitan dimension.

The city of Brno expected to gain new knowledge in the management of the metropolitan area (development, planning, cooperation), and learn examples of good practice and specific solutions for its future development. The ESPON METRO project was developed under the auspices of the Politecnico di Torino research team (main contractor). The project also included a team from Charles University, Professor Luděk Sýkora, University Libre in Brussels, etc.

The main research questions of the project were:

  • What role do metropolitan areas play in managing the development and implementation of cohesion policy?
  • What is the added value of EU cohesion policy in planning and implementing metropolitan policies?
  • How do metropolitan areas approach the implementation of cohesion policy (plans, programmes, investments, projects, multi-level governance, etc.)?
  • How are metropolitan areas and other stakeholders involved in the development, management and evaluation of cohesion policy?
  • What is the added value of applying cohesion policy in metropolitan areas?

The main outputs of the project include:  

  • An introductory report developing the research objectives, methodological framework and the context in which each metropolitan area operates. The introductory report can be found in here. An annex to the report describing the current situation in each metropolitan area can be found here.
  • Case studies of individual metropolitan areas informing about the role of cities in the implementation of national and regional cohesion policy, the influence of cities in the preparation of partnership agreements and the level of participation of metropolitan areas in the process of planning cohesion policy, especially operational programmes for the programming period 21+. Case studies also offer a detailed description of the cohesion policy instruments used by cities, the involvement of relevant stakeholders, the development of strategies and the relationship between cohesion policy objectives and metropolitan planning and implementation. The case studies provide concrete recommendations on the implementation of cohesion policy at metropolitan level and the integration of the metropolitan dimension.
  • Final report summarising the results of the project and comparing the role of each metropolitan area in the framework of cohesion policy.
  • Three policy recommendations: how to strengthen the role of metropolitan areas in the development, management and implementation of cohesion policy; how to highlight the added value of cohesion policy in the planning and implementation of metropolitan policies; and how to better reflect the role of cohesion policy in the design of metropolitan governance structures and cooperation procedures.

All results can be downloaded from the official ESPON METRO website.

Where do we stand compared to other metropolitan areas?

The Brno Metropolitan area is one of the smallest areas examined, but it is also the metropolitan area with the smallest population. On the contrary, we excel in the number of municipalities that are part of the metropolitan area.

Metropolitan area   Area (km2) Population (x1000) Population density Municipalities
Turin 6827 2231 327 312
Barcelona 636 3291 5176 36
Lisbon 3015 2863 950 18
Brno 1978 700 354 184
Gdaňsk-Gdynia-Sopot 5690 1555 273 51
Florence 3514 995 280 41
Lyon 538 1390 2596 59
Brussels 161 1200 7241 19
Riga 3359 870 259 9

The development of metropolitan governance in the Brno Metropolitan Area does not have a very long history compared to the other areas studied. In six metropolitan areas (Turin, Barcelona, Lisbon, Florence, Lyon and Brussels), metropolitan cooperation is formally anchored and based on an institutional framework.

Subsequently, the research team looked at the impact of cohesion policy on metropolitan cooperation. In the table below, you can see that only three other metropolitan areas use the ITI together with the Brno Metropolitan Area. In the Brno Metropolitan Area, the potential for using cohesion policy is rated as high. The ITI makes it possible to manage a high share of resources in a functional area. It also contributes to the institutionalisation of metropolitan governance and cooperation. Integrated projects within the Brno Metropolitan Area and the use of the ITI are mentioned as an examples of good practice.

Metropolitan area Managing authority Intermediary body Recipient
Barcelona No No Yes (ERDF ROP)
Brno No Yes (ITI – OP IROP, OPTAK) Yes (ITI from NOP ERDF, CF, ESF)
Brussels Yes No Regions
Florence No Yes, but technically only until 2015 (ROP ESF) Yes (ROP ESF)
Gdaňsk-Gdynia-Sopot No ROP (ITI) ROP, NOP
Lisbon No Yes (ROP ITI) Yes ROP and NOP
Lyon No Yes (NO ESF, ERDF ITI) Yes (NOP ESF, ERDF, ITI)
Riga No No Yes (NOP)
Turin No Yes (ROP ESF) Yes

For more comparisons and recommendations on cohesion policy, see case study.

Research questions 

What role do metropolitan areas play in managing the development and implementation of cohesion policy?

  • It is not very relevant in the framework of the European cohesion policy 2014-2020;
  • Intermediate bodies for some ESIF priorities, Italy OP METRO;
  • ITI – important factor.

What is the added value of the EU cohesion policy in the planning and implementing metropolitan policies?

  • Consistency between the objectives and priorities of European cohesion policy and metropolitan area policies;
  • Metropolitan areas are adapting their strategies to cohesion policy in order to channel resources.

What role does European cohesion policy play in consolidating metropolitan governance and cooperation?

  • In the absence of formalised metropolitan areas, cohesion policy can trigger institutional experiments;
  • Formalised metropolitan areas use European cohesion policy as a lever to stimulate cooperation between municipalities.

These recommendations were subsequently developed into policy opinions and can be found here.

Case study of Brno Metropolitan Area

Within the Brno Metropolitan Area, the role of cohesion policy through the ITI instrument has been identified as crucial. The research report mentions that the position of the metropolitan area is very fragile, temporary and completely dependent on cohesion policy and the ITI. There is still no legal framework to anchor metropolitan governance and metropolitan areas are often not seen as key territories for the territorial dimension of public policies. The research report states that one of the main challenges of BMO is the position of the metropolitan area in the governance of the territory in the Czech Republic. Participation in metropolitan governance, planning and cooperation is currently primarily motivated by the availability of EU Cohesion Policy funding provided through the ITI instrument. There are currently almost no other instruments and mechanisms (apart from the ITI) in national policies to support and define metropolitan cooperation, planning and governance. There is a risk that political support for these territorial units may disappear with the change of EU cohesion policy instruments. The challenge is to establish metropolitan governance, planning and cooperation as a common practice so that it is not solely dependent on the impulses and financial support of EU cohesion policy. Researchers talk about creating an institutional framework to ensure the conditions for a more prominent and equal role for local initiatives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main metropolitan challenges include:

  • The status of metropolitan areas in the governance of the territory cannot yet be based on legal status and decision-making powers in the Czech Republic. The importance of metropolitan areas is not yet fully appreciated in national decision-making, even though it is one of the key aspects of the territorial dimension of public policies. At the same time, metropolitan areas and city regions should be seen as important units of the country’s territorial development and as autonomous, self-contained areas that ensure economic, social and cultural development and promote technological and social progress through innovation.
  • Participation in metropolitan governance, planning and cooperation is currently primarily motivated by the availability of EU cohesion policy funding through the ITI instrument. There are currently no other instruments and mechanisms (apart from the ITI) in national policies to support and define metropolitan cooperation, planning and governance. There is a risk that political support for these territorial units may disappear with the change of EU cohesion policy instruments. The challenge is to establish metropolitan governance, planning and cooperation as standard practice so that it is not solely dependent on the impetus and financial support of EU cohesion policy.
  • Until now, metropolitan governance and cooperation has been driven primarily by top-down policies. The key challenge is to create an institutional framework that provides the conditions for a more prominent and equal role for local initiatives, while strengthening the role of metropolitan governance in addressing key issues and challenges in the metropolitan area.

The research report presents three recommendations for the Brno Metropolitan Area:

  • Establish and maintain metropolitan areas as key territories for the territorial dimension of national and EU public policies. Strengthen the coordination of the metropolitan dimension between national regional and urban policy and spatial planning.
  • Develop a metropolitan cooperation mechanism involving a wide range of local actors to ensure the implementation of a comprehensive metropolitan agenda building on local, national and EU development objectives. Negotiate, define, agree and finance development objectives beyond both ITIs and EU cohesion policy incentives.
  • Strengthen metropolitan governance and cooperation as a separate, autonomous and independent from EU cohesion policy. Create a new legal framework for metropolitan governance based on active participation and accountability of metropolitan actors. Strengthen the role of metropolitan governance. Find ways to create a common metropolitan fund to support the implementation of metropolitan strategic priorities from its own resources together with support from national and EU funds.

Thanks to the involvement in the ESPON METRO project, the city of Brno has gained new knowledge for metropolitan area management (development, planning, cooperation) by sharing examples of good practice from other participating metropolitan areas. The individual recommendations can also serve as arguments for strengthening metropolitan cooperation towards the European and national level and for developing metropolitan cooperation in the Brno Metropolitan Area.

The city of Brno also hosted an expert workshop during which experts debated the results of the project. You can read the summary of the workshop here (only in Czech).