EU needs to realise full potential of its cities

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An EU urban agenda is about cities, national governments and the EU working together to solve Europe’s problems, said Tom Balthazar, deputy mayor of Ghent representing EUROCITIES at 2nd CiTIES Forum.

The second edition of the European Commission’s CITIES Forum focused on ‘an urban agenda for Europe’. It brought stakeholders from the EU institutions, cities, European networks and national governments together to discuss the next steps for an EU urban agenda.

Corina Creţu, European commissioner for regional policy, presented the findings of the Commission’s 2014 consultation on an EU urban agenda.

We were represented by Tom Balthazar, deputy mayor of Ghent, EUROCITIES vice president, on a panel alongside Commissioner Creţu. He described our expectations for an EU urban agenda that better connects existing policies that touch on cities and citizens, and pointed out that many of the new Commission’s ten priorities are closely linked to cities, and that the performance of urban areas is therefore critical to achieving these.

He said that in order for the Commission to ‘help us to help you’ it needs to provide the right framework for cities to contribute to developing and implementing effective policies and programmes.

Giorgios Kaminis, mayor of Athens, spoke on the same panel, saying that it is in cities that we find the biggest challenges and therefore they need to be empowered to help solve these.

Also speaking on the panel was Kerstin Westphal MEP, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on an EU urban agenda. She spoke about her visions for a single European official responsible for ‘bringing all the threads together’ and ensuring the different policies and programmes are better connected across DGs, a proposal that we support in our statement, available at the link below.

Speaking at a workshop on inclusive and socially integrated cities, Thomas Fabian, deputy mayor of Leipzig and chair of our social affairs forum, explained that the integration of asylum seekers and refugees is a major EU issue right now, of which cities are at the forefront. He also stressed that in order to avoid bottlenecks in tackling urban challenges, cities must be part of the decision making process.  

Our secretary general, Anna Lisa Boni, will speak at a series of events over the coming weeks on the theme of ‘smart cities’. She contributed to a workshop at the forum where she stressed the need to encourage and involve ‘smart citizens’ in the transition to smart cities.

Find out more about our proposals for an effective EU urban agenda that strengthens our cities’ involvement in EU policy development for the benefit of Europe as a whole in our statement and infographic, both available below.

For more information on the CITIES Forum 2015, click here


Photo: Markku Markkula, president of the Committee of the Regions; Kerstin Westphal MEP; Commissioner Cretu; Giorgios Kaminis, mayor of Athens; Kaspars Gerhards, Latvian minister for environment protection and regional development; and Tom Balthazar, deputy mayor of Ghent © EC Audiovisual Service 


EUROCITIES staff contact

Dorthe Nielsen