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New European Bauhaus: Cities and regions ready to act as living labs  

To strengthen the territorial dimension of the New European Bauhaus initiative, the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions organised on 14 April an online workshop with mayors and other high-level representatives of several former European Capitals of Culture and Capitals of Innovation. Participants highlighted to Commissioners Mariya Gabriel and Elisa Ferreira that the success of the New Bauhaus project relies on harnessing the creative potential of cities and regions.

​The New European Bauhaus is an environmental, economic and cultural project, aiming to combine design, sustainability, accessibility, affordability and investment in order to help deliver the European Green Deal. It was announced by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union address in 2020. The project is currently in co-design phase, which will lead to the opening of calls for proposals for first five pilot projects to be implemented across Europe with the support of EU funds. Commissioner Ferreira also confirmed that the European Commission will launch the first edition of the New European Bauhaus prize next week.

Elisa Ferreira , Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, said: “The New European Bauhaus is a project for all regions, cities, towns and villages. Beyond a policy choice and a change in mindset, together we embark on a new journey of physical transformation of our living spaces, our homes and public venues. Each place has its unique identity, making up Europe's rich culture, heritage and diversity. Culture and creativity are important drivers of innovation, entrepreneurship and regional growth. These are all different facets that the New European Bauhaus brings to light in a new way. The experiences and ideas of the European Capitals of Culture and Capitals of Innovation can bring a valuable contribution to the co-design of this new European movement to rebuild back better.”

Mariya Gabriel , Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The New European Bauhaus aims to empower communities and design solutions to the everyday issues our citizens face. I welcome that several mayors, who are taking care of the most pressing concerns on the ground, came together and shared their invaluable input with us today. Local communities are at the heart of this initiative, from co-designing solutions to refining best practices through local experiences. The New European Bauhaus will play a central role in re-shaping our communities, leveraging innovation, culture, education and research to improve our lives – with everyone’s participation.”

Apostolos Tzitzikostas , President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of Central Macedonia Region in Greece, said: "The New European Bauhaus is about boosting the transformation taking place in our cities and regions. It is about bringing the Green Deal to the local level. Cities and regions are the living labs of this movement which is essentially place-based. Communities must decide what works best to overcome their own challenges and meet their needs."

President Tzitzikostas also suggested that the first edition of the New European Bauhaus prize could be associated with a dedicated label, on the model of the Horizon Seal of Excellence or the European Heritage Label . "A New European Bauhaus Label could inspire new projects more widely and help build a lasting legacy", he said.

Anne Karjalainen (FI/PES), Chair of CoR's SEDEC Commission and local councillor of Kerava, said: "The European Committee of the Regions can contribute to anchoring the New Bauhaus in our regions and cities. The SEDEC commission in particular, which is at the intersection of culture and research & innovation, can be a platform of raising awareness and exchanging best practices. But for this initiative to become a real movement, it must be a project for the many, not just the few. Locally and regionally elected representatives are key levers in making the New Bauhaus more accessible to people, bringing also closer to them the concept of the European Green Deal."

Participants to the workshop included CoR members, as well as several mayors and other high-level representatives of former European Capitals of Culture and Capitals of Innovation. Mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel (HR/PES) said: "Despite the huge challenges posed by the pandemic, Rijeka's experience as a European Capital of Culture 2020 has enabled many of my fellow-citizens to reinvent communication, to network and exchange ideas, physically but also in the virtual world, strengthening our European identity and building togetherness that extends far beyond the project's duration. What is more, the initiative allowed for the renovation of industrial heritage buildings to cultural infrastructure. This is very much in the spirit of the New Bauhaus initiative, to which Rijeka can contribute, building on its recent experience."

Lauri Ouvinen
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