Cities are where energy and climate challenges are concentrated, but also where solutions are generated.
“Cities are key to the establishment of the Energy Union project,” said Commission vice president Maroš Šefčovič to the 15 EUROCITIES mayors that joined the high level roundtable on the strategic role of smart cities on 25 February.
The event took place on the same day the European Commission launched its Energy Union communication. The Energy Union is a strategy designed to ensure secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy for all EU citizens and businesses. It includes five so-called 'dimensions': energy security, solidarity and trust; a fully integrated European energy market; energy efficiency contributing to moderation of demand; decarbonising the economy, and research, innovation and competitiveness. While cities are acting on most of these areas, the communication focuses on energy efficiency when referring to the role of local authorities.
Speaking about how cities can contribute to Europe’s energy security, our vice president and mayor of Ghent, Daniël Termont, explained how local authorities are ahead of member states when it comes to reducing energy consumption: “The Covenant of Mayors is an example for member states. Mayors collaborate better at EU level than national governments, independently of their party because they are closer to their citizens.”
Engaging citizens and communities in local energy-saving activities must be better supported by the EU. Acknowledging that there are no smart cities without smart citizens, mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, called for more EU support for community-led initiatives: “I am independent, I have no political ambition and I am prepared for change. Now it’s up to the EU to enable the communities to develop their own energy programmes, because energy is also a social issue, not just an environmental one.”
Piero Fassino, mayor of Turin, said that “in times of national austerity EU financing is crucial for local action.”
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