An EU urban agenda: how to make it work

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Johanna Rolland presented our views on an EU urban agenda at an event in Rome on 1 October.

The event, focusing on an EU urban agenda, was organised jointly by the Italian EU presidency and the mayor of Rome. Speaking at the event, Johanna Rolland said: “We want an EU urban agenda that empowers cities to drive smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for Europe. It can do this by promoting joined-up policies for cities, and by engaging us directly in the development of policies.”

Johannes Hahn, European commissioner for regional policy, presented feedback from the stakeholder consultation on the Commission’s communication on moving towards an EU urban agenda. There is general support among stakeholders for an urban agenda that strengthens both coordination between policies with an urban dimension and the involvement of cities in policy making. Further consideration is now needed on how an urban agenda should be implemented and on which priorities it should focus. Commissioner Hahn promised to ensure a smooth transition with his successor, Corina Cretu, and encouraged cities to help maintain the current strong urban momentum.

Mark Frequin, director general from the Dutch ministry of the interior and kingdom relations, presented the run up to the Dutch EU presidency in 2016 as an opportunity to set in motion a process of shared work between member states, the Commission and cities, and to start strengthening the content of an urban agenda. A mayors’ forum will take place in Amsterdam in spring 2016, which should secure real commitments from all parties involved.

In our response to the Commission’s consultation, we have argued that an EU urban agenda must take a practical and coherent approach that directly involves cities in EU policy making. A successful urban agenda should:

  • Respect subsidiarity by developing a framework for better policy coordination and involvement of cities in policy and programme development, rather than creating new legislation for cities.

  • Get cities around the table by involving them as partners in decisions at member state level on investment priorities, strategic policy development and programming related to Europe 2020 and the structural funds.

  • Maintain an urban dialogue by hosting regular informal Council meetings on urban policy, and biennial urban summits at EU level gathering all government levels and urban stakeholders.

  • Better coordinate policies with an urban dimension by appointing an urban envoy in the Commission to join up policies and different government levels.

  • Strengthen the involvement of cities in EU policy development through genuine collaboration and partnership, rather than consultations, to reflect urban priorities on the ground.

Ahead of the event, Ignazio M. Marino, mayor of Rome, hosted a meeting with fellow mayors and vice mayors of EU capital cities and with Commissioner Hahn to reflect on specific issues for capital cities in relation to an EU urban agenda, and how to improve multilevel governance through this genda. 


EUROCITIES staff contact

Dorthe Nielsen