Birmingham City Council

Regional, European and International Division

The European and International Affairs (EIA) team leads for Birmingham City Council (BCC) on:

  • European funding
  • European policy
  • International affairs

A European and International Strategy for Birmingham 2013-2016 has been developed to set out the direction for European and international engagement.

Four area focussed associations have been established to help us deliver our strategy comprising: Europe; North/South America; Commonwealth; and China. For further details about the associations, please visit www.distinctlybirmingham.com.

Europe

European funding work includes:

  • leading Birmingham City Council on European funding, including providing advice and guidance to council departments and external partners on all matters relating to EU funding and policy.
  • helping secure £235million for the EU Social Investment Fund (encompassing the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Youth Employment Initiative) for the Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership running from 2014 – 2020.
  • delivering the £53.5 million European Social Fund Innovation, Transnationality and Mainstreaming Programme on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (2009-2014)
  • for the 2007-13 period we are currently delivering c£35m of ERDF projects including £20m sustainable urban development package
  • during 2012-2013, a further £9.8 million worth of new European Regional Development Funding has been successfully secured to deliver six projects including:
  • AIMHIGH which invests in innovative solutions to improve energy efficiency in hard-to-treat social housing.
  • Marketing Birmingham accessed ERDF for its visitor and inward investment activities.
  • There are grant assistance programmes ranging from start-ups and expansions to significant property assistance schemes of £1m in value for expansion of small to medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) property and commercial activities.
  • The expansion of the cross Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Green Bridge project, helping SME companies become more sustainable by more efficient use of resources and reduced emissions, thereby helping companies to reduce costs and boost performance.

EU Transnational Programme:

Birmingham City Council is currently involved in several transnational projects including:

  • Cities for Active Inclusion (funded by Progress) which promotes mutual learning across cities to promote the inclusion of citizens in society and the labour market. The learning from this has informed the 2013 European Commission’s Social Investment Package.
  • Cityspyce (funded by FP7)which focusses on combatting inequalities through innovative social practices by and for young people in cities across Europe.
  • Opticities (funded by EU Framework7) is an EU research project into ‘intelligent transport systems’ seeking to optimise transport networks addressing both passenger and freight issues.
  • Cogita (Interreg IVC) supports the uptake of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in SMEs.
  • Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC)(Created by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology) aims to transform innovative ideas in the field of climate change into new products, services and jobs.
  • Complex Challenges, Innovative Cities (Interreg IVC) aims to improve regional innovation policies by enhancing innovation in the public sector.
  • Creative Spin (URBACT) aims to define and test tools and methods to connect culture and creative industries with other sectors of the economy and public/social services to facilitate so called ‘creative spillovers’ contributing to innovation.
  • Advancing Birmingham’s vocational skills (Leonardo da Vinci) aims to improve the quality of vocational training services in Birmingham including a week-long placement in Stockholm to improve specialists’ practice.
  • Discover4carers (CIP-ICT-PSP)aims to improve digital skills and digital inclusion skills of carers by creating tailor made e-learning materials and engaging carers through Birmingham Carers Centre.
  • Smart Spaces (Competitiveness and innovation framework programme) aims to improve the Council’s building energy management system and include new displays that help raise awareness of the building users and support better decision making of energy managers.
  • TRANS-FORM (FP7) aims to explore the way public procurement activity can support the development of innovative low emission vehicle technology.
  • My Neighbourhood (EU Smart City Programme) seeks to empower residents to strengthen neighbourhood ties using information technology and social media. There is a particular focus on safe and sustainable travel.
  • In 2013, BCC submitted seven further bids worth €1,287,965 across the Life Long Learning, Progress and Competitiveness and Innovation Framework programmes.

Other Transnational Opportunities

We advise on future EU funding opportunities including:

  • Erasmus +, beginning on 1 January 2014 and replacing current funding programmes run by the European Commission in the area of education, training, youth and sport.
  • Horizon 2020, designed to implement the ‘Innovation Union’, a Europe 2020flagship initiative to secure Europe's global competitiveness. It is the EU’s new programme for research and innovation to create new growth and jobs in Europe with a budget of €70 billion for the 2014 to 2020 period.
  • Interreg 5 (2014-2020), promoting cross-border, transnational and inter-regional cooperation of various entities, institutions and companies on relevant matters, the INTERREG programme is an important tool for European regional development.
  • COSME, an EU programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs running from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of €2.3bn.
  • Creative Europe will replace the MEDIA, MEDIA Mundus and Culture programmes from 2014 and has a total budget of € 1.46 billion (2014 – 2020).

EU Policy

Greater Birmingham and West Midlands Brussels office (GBWMBO)

In October 2012, Birmingham City Council took over the Greater Birmingham and West Midlands Brussels office. The office’s functions comprise:

  • profile raising, influence and raising awareness to promote Birmingham interests
  • gathering early intelligence on transnational European funding opportunities
  • being a dissemination partner in European projects
  • sustaining and enhancing relationships with key European stakeholders such as the European Commission, European Parliament and other Brussels-based institutions and organisations
  • renting space, meeting rooms & organising events
  • the GBWMBO currently provides services to a number of local partners and has partnerships, formalised through service level agreements with:
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Warwick
  • Aston University
  • Staffordshire University
  • Keele University
  • Birmingham City University
  • International Synergies Ltd.

And other organisations co-located at the GBWMBO include:

  • Climate KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community)
  • Northamptonshire Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Helpage
  • Lower Silesia

Eurocities

  • We lead on Birmingham’s engagement in the European network Eurocities. Eurocities is the network of major European cities. Its members are the elected local and municipal governments of major European cities, influencing and working with the EU institutions to respond to common issues that affect the day-to-day lives of Europeans. Cllr Bore, Leader of the Council is the Eurocities Secretary; Cllr McKay, Cabinet Member for Green, Safe and Smart City chairs the Environment Forum and Birmingham was Chair of the Social Affairs Committee from 2010-2012. In November 2013, Birmingham City Council also agreed to become the Vice Chair of a new Urban Taskforce for Eurocities.

Partner Cities

Lyon, France: In October 2013, Bournville College and EC Arts teamed up with Lyon’s Fête des Lumières to launch an annual lighting festival in the Longbridge area. There has also been recent co-operation in the fields of culture, gastronomy, and transportation policy.

Frankfurt, Germany: A key part of this relationship centres on the annual Frankfurt Christmas Market. The team supports civic relations; liaising with Frankfurt and the German stallholders plus the schools engagement programme. The estimated economic impact of 2012 Christmas market was £85 million.

Leipzig, Germany: Birmingham and Leipzig have been working closely to jointly lead EUROCITIES’ lobbying to ensure a strong role for cities in the future of EU structural funds (ERDF and ESF) post 2014.

Milan, Italy: Birmingham took part in the City of Milan’s second annual forum on social affairs in January 2013. Past collaboration includes co-operation in the fields of design and fashion.

China

  • There is an increasing amount of interest from Chinese companies in terms of inward investment and we regularly host incoming delegations to Birmingham.
  • Birmingham will be a signatory of the EU China Urbanisation Partnership, a forum to help tackle some of the fundamental problems of urbanisation that are facing European and Chinese cities.
  • We are also working to establish direct routes between Birmingham and Chinese cities including the direct flights operating between Birmingham and Beijing to start July 2014.

We have a sister city relationship with a number of Chinese cities including:

Guangzhou

An exciting range of work is being undertaken with this sister city. This includes:

  • exploration of business exchange and investment opportunities in the advanced manufacturing , digital media and life sciences sectors
  • an annual city management programme hosted by Birmingham City Council in cooperation with the University of Birmingham to train Guangzhou municipal government civil servants with over 200 completing the 4 week course so far
  • strong partnerships built between the University of Birmingham and the University Hospital Birmingham with academic and medical institutions in Guangzhou
  • a new secondary schools partnership programme created to link Birmingham and Guangzhou schools
  • best practice and knowledge transfer exchanges in the field of urbanisation, recycling policy, traffic management and air pollution

Changchun

Known as the ‘car city’ of China, Changchun is our oldest Chinese sister city. Work encompasses:

  • a strong focus on cooperation in the automotive fields with auto related foreign direct investment coming into the city region as a result
  • Aston university is looking to partner with Changchun based institutions to help train Chinese engineers
  • The Changchun Municipal Government brought a major auto delegation to Birmingham in April 2013

Nanjing

  • Birmingham is hoping to send a team to the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing.
  • There are regular delegation visits from Nanjing to Birmingham looking at cooperation in the fields of medical and life sciences and higher education.

Commonwealth

The Commonwealth spans 53 countries globally. We are working through the association to increase the city’s enagement with these countries. Current activity includes work on two networks:

Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Based in London, the CLGF promotes local government across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth serving a population of approximately two billion people. Birmingham City Council has been a member of the forum since 2000.

  • Engagement with the Commonwealth and Local Government Forum has had several highlights including the completion of the solid waste management project in Aurangabad, India.

Commonwealth Inclusive Cities Network

  • BCC is directing the work of 16 Commonwealth member cities to improve the delivery of local government services.
  • Through an exchange of case studies, member cities have examined common interests and challenges around local economic development, migration, gender and social housing.

Sister city: Johannesburg, South Africa: Birmingham received a visit from the deputy High Commissioner in March 2013 to promote local government, business, faith, cultural and other linkages between the two cities. The work programme with this city encompasses a focus on:

  • young people comparing approaches and service delivery around unemployment, disengagement and drugs
  • inclusion looking at methods and service delivery expertise around inclusion processes including a focus on migrants
  • local economic development looking at place based deprivation mapping, local economic development and social enterprise

North/South America

Birmingham’s sister city is Chicago, USA: We are working closely with our US counterpart on a range of issues including:

  • best practice exchange on city management
  • exchanges of transferable models of service delivery best practice on city management with INLOGOV, University of Birmingham
  • an active programme of exchange for social workers between our two cities
  • a best practice exchange on migration and social cohesion
  • a best practice exchange for the police service with both cities exchanging know-how on crime prevention

European Links

  • Eurocities: www.eurocities.eu
  • ESF Innovation, Transnationality and Mainstreaming: http://www.esf-works.com/

International Links