People at the Forefront of the New European Bauhaus 

14 June 2024 - // Opinions
Mikel Landabaso
Director for Growth and Innovation at the Joint Research Centre, European Commission

Why we can’t bring about true change without people on the ground.

The green transition will only succeed if it addresses the issues people truly care about. For meaningful change to take hold, it must resonate deeply and personally. People need to be at the forefront of this transition, and we can only achieve it together. 

This is the essence of the New European Bauhaus (NEB), an EU policy and funding initiative that aims at building a sustainable future collectively by creating sustainable, inclusive, and beautiful places, products, and ways of living. At first glance, beauty might seem like an unusual concept in this mix, but it’s essential. Beauty fosters a deeper connection and commitment to the green transition among people. After all, why would we embrace change if it isn’t also attractive, comfortable, and beautiful? 

Still, the NEB goes beyond promoting sustainability — it empowers us to become active participants in the green transition. By engaging people at the grassroots level, focusing on neighbourhoods, it gives people a sense of ownership and pride in the transformations that shape their lives. Moreover, it values local culture, heritage, and identities, recognizing Europe’s diversity and helping communities develop tailor-made solutions that truly matter to them. 

Look at this project in Sevilla: in the Tres Barrios-Amate neighbourhood, one of the poorest in Spain, a remarkable bottom-up initiative has brought together local creators, residents, and young people to make art and contemporary culture accessible to everyone. Through workshops, meetings, and shared celebrations, people from Tres Barrios-Amate explored their neighbourhood’s resources and diversity, and collectively built a more sustainable and harmonious living space for them to enjoy. 

That said, the NEB prioritizes people and the economy: it challenges industries to provide solutions that are technically feasible and tailored to local needs, promoting bio-based and locally sourced materials. This boosts competitiveness and strengthens the EU’s strategic autonomy.  

A movement spreading its impact on the ground 

Three years after its launch, we are proud to see the NEB’s impact on the ground in every EU Member State and beyond. Almost 500 projects promoting and supporting the NEB values and principles have been launched in the areas of research and innovation, cohesion, regional and urban development, skills development, and culture – stemming from remarkable ideas and concepts!  

a vision for a future where sustainability, inclusivity and beauty go hand in hand

The New European Bauhaus is more than those 500 projects. There are lots of other bottom-up NEB initiatives that are financed by EU funds that are coming to life thanks to the energy and commitment of people on the ground. A vibrant and growing NEB Community is also in place and now has reached almost 1,400 members uniting non-profit organizations, businesses, public authorities, NEB project holders, National Contact Points, and experts, reaching several millions of Europeans.  

A solid future for the New European Bauhaus 

And the next chapter for the NEB? A dedicated financing tool! So far, the NEB has been financed by nine EU programmes, notably Horizon Europe, Cohesion policy, and the LIFE programme, through which close to EUR 400 million have been committed to the initiative. Considering its fast evolution, though, it was clear that it’s time for a standalone, multi-annual financial support instrument for the NEB.  

Thus, the ‘NEB Facility,’ was adopted by the Commission in March 2024. This tool, active from 2025 to 2027 and anchored in Horizon Europe, aims to scale up, deploy, and implement innovative solutions to transform and revitalize neighbourhoods and to provide more beautiful, sustainable, and inclusive living spaces. 

Undoubtedly, all this shows that the New European Bauhaus exists, grows, and flourishes on the ground. Looking at the speed of increase of the NEB Community membership and the expressed interest we hear from these varied community members, clearly the NEB has impact, it brings people together and there is demand for its values and approach. 

I can confidently say that the NEB isn’t just an EU policy and funding initiative. It’s a vision for a future where sustainability, inclusivity and beauty go hand in hand, making the green transition something we all can be proud of and eager to be part of. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not (necessarily) reflect REVOLVE's editorial stance.
Mikel Landabaso
Director for Growth and Innovation at the Joint Research Centre, European Commission

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