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Anna Lisa Boni: Time for a renewed Europe

date
16-02-2017

As EUROCITIES is preparing to host a 'Mayors summit on the future of Europe' on 7 March in Brussels, our secretary general reiterates the need to find new ways to build bridges between the EU institutions and the people they serve.

It is 60 years since the Treaty of Rome came into force, laying the foundations for the European Union. Beyond trade and cross-border cooperation, what truly unites us as Europeans are our shared values of dignity, freedom, democracy and equality. And it is in cities where these are most evident. Think of our efforts to reach out to disadvantaged communities and provide opportunities for young people to participate fully in society. Or our work to develop the creative and innovative tools to connect with citizens, to bring them closer to local decision making and give them a say in shaping their local communities. 
 
Europe can learn a lot from its cities, and now seems the perfect time to work together on a renewed European project. At a time when Euroscepticism, disillusionment and political extremism are on the rise, we can’t simply sit by and watch. We need to act. We need to find new ways to build bridges between the EU institutions and the people they serve. And to be honest, we need to move away from just the question of better communicating Europe’s achievements and benefits to citizens. We must engage them, work with them, include them in developing solutions to challenges and shaping public policies. City administrations are the level of government closest to citizens; we understand their concerns, visions and expectations. By working with cities, the EU institutions can empower citizens to take responsibility in making Europe more democratic and relevant. 
 
On 7 March, we will meet European and national policy makers in Brussels for our ‘Mayors summit on the future of Europe’. This is our chance to explore practically how Europe and member states can work with and learn from cities and together fight populism and Euroscepticism. 
 
I am very pleased that so many mayors and deputy mayors have responded to the call for the 7 March summit, and I am already very proud of their commitment towards creating a positive future for Europe with people at its heart.