Thomas Fabian, vice mayor of Leipzig and chair of our social affairs forum, stressed the importance of recognising cities' potential to deliver on the EU's strategic objectives at the CiTIES Forum on 2 June.
Thomas Fabian was speaking at a workshop on 'inclusive cities/socially integrated cities' at the European Commission's second CiTIES Forum on 2 June, which had the theme ‘towards an EU urban agenda for Europe’. Thomas Fabian stressed the importance of fully recognising cities’ potential and capacity to deliver on the EU’s strategic objectives and on effective investment programmes in their regions. He also informed participants of our social affairs forum’s three priorities: social cohesion and diversity; inclusion and employment of young people; and tackling deep-seated poverty and worklessness.
He set out three issues that could be effectively addressed through an EU urban agenda:
asylum and migration: our recent statement on asylum demonstrates that cities are at the frontline of the current rise in asylum seekers.
affordable, quality housing: in particular that the Commission should leave it up to member states and their local and regional authorities to decide on the definition and type of provision of social housing.
employment: greater integration of services at local level, together with strong coordination between governance levels, could effectively tackle the current employment crisis.
He reiterated the point we make in our statement on an EU urban agenda, that city involvement should move away from basic consultation towards genuine collaboration and partnership. He also called for more funding to be directly available to cities and greater resources to sustain successful pilot projects.
Thomas Fabian said: “Our citizens don't think in terms of policy sectors and competences. They expect solutions to their everyday concerns. And we will be wise to follow up on that and work together on all levels and across policy areas to come up with holistic solutions that make the life of our citizens better.”
Finally, he echoed our recommendations to nominate an urban envoy to coordinate policies across different Commission DGs, as well as strengthening the urban dimension of impact assessments of new legislative proposals, and improving data collection at local level.