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An Urban Agenda for Europe

Posted by Nick Prag at 04 June 2015, 16:00 CET |

Europe's cities are the engines of its economy, providing jobs and services, and they serve as hubs that catalyse creativity and innovation. Almost 70% of the EU population now live in urban areas. However, they are also home to some of our greatest challenges: economic, social, environmental and demographic, which are often interrelated.

Many believe a European policy response to these challenges at European and national level has been slow and piecemeal, and calls for an 'EU urban agenda' coming from a range of stakeholders at EU, national and local level.

The CITIES Forums, organised by the Commission, initiated the debate, and this week, at the 2nd European CITIES Forum in Brussels on 2 June, the Commission unveiled the results of its public consultation.

The consultation generated strong interest, with responses from local authority associations, trade and industry federations, civil society organisations. Some Member States also carried out national consultations with local authorities.

The responses, says the Commission, confirmed the need for a European role in helping cities address common challenges and indeed a more important role for the cities in contributing to EU priorities such as a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy.

The Commission says the consultation showed a clear demand for more coordination between EU policies with an urban dimension. As a result, it has proposed to focus on a number of specific priorities, including: smart, climate-resilient cities; a reinforcement of urban impact assessment and stakeholder involvement; better coordination of EU policies relating to cities - such as the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities (EIP-SCC), the Urban Innovative Actions or the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate ADAPT); and improved urban monitoring.

It is a good thing that the Commission should address these issues, and there are signs that the urban agenda is on the move.

The European Parliament's Committee for Regional Development has drafted a report on the issue which is expected to be adopted by September.

And the Latvian EU Presidency is due to present a Declaration on 9 June at the Informal Cohesion Council where EU ministers responsible for Urban Development will, for the first time, be called upon to commit to develop a shared EU Urban Agenda.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.