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Brussels, 28 July 2005

Commission consults public on action to improve the urban environment in Europe

The European Commission is inviting the public and relevant authorities to give their views via the Internet on a new European strategy to improve the urban environment in Europe and also reduce the impact that cities have on the wider environment. The strategy is due to be proposed by the Commission in December 2005. The consultation will run until 21 September 2005.

Stavros Dimas, Commissioner for the Environment, said: “Most of us live in cities – so the quality of our urban environment is an issue of daily concern. European environmental legislation is already delivering cleaner air, improved wastewater treatment and many other benefits. We are now looking to see how we can best exploit the positive links between these laws, and how best to support local authorities in their efforts to improve the urban environment. We are seeking the views of citizens and experts alike on this.”

The internet consultation launched today provides an opportunity for the largest possible number of people to express their views on the quality of the urban environment where they live and work.

The consultation asks questions concerning the importance people attach to living in a high quality environment and what measures respondents are prepared to take themselves to improve the quality and performance of their own city. More technical questions primarily addressed to national and local authorities and experts concern, for example, the importance of learning from other cities and the most effective way to achieve this.

Promoting integrated approaches

In many cities, poor air quality, noise, heavy traffic, neglect of the built environment, poor environmental management and a lack of strategic planning have led to a lower quality of life, health problems and even premature deaths. Cities also have a considerable impact on the environment, producing large volumes of greenhouse gases, air pollution and waste, and consuming large amounts of resources.

These issues are often tackled separately but more can be achieved by promoting integrated approaches. Problems such as air quality or urban sprawl are common to most European cities. There are clear opportunities at the European level to develop, share and facilitate the implementation of appropriate solutions, while recognising that these need to be adapted to the local conditions.

A thematic strategy

The upcoming EU strategy on the urban environment is one of a series of “thematic strategies” to be adopted this year by the Commission, as set out in the 6th Environment Action Programme. Other thematic strategies concern waste, air pollution, natural resources, the marine environment, pesticides, and soil.

Thematic strategies represent a modern way of policy-making. They take a broad view and set out a package of measures to achieve their goal. The thematic strategy on the urban environment takes a geographically defined approach and integrates different policies at local level. The strategies are developed on the basis of extensive knowledge and consultation. This consultation will provide input to allow the strategy on the urban environment to be completed.

How to participate in the public consultation?
The questionnaire is available via the following link:
The website for the Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment is

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