Brussels, 24 May 2007
Europe's regions and cities are on the front line when it comes to boosting the Union's economic prospects, Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner told EU ministers meeting in Leipzig for a two-day informal gathering (24-25 May). Their meeting, organised by the German Presidency, is entitled Urban Development and Territorial Cohesion. Hosted by German Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, the meeting is invited to adopt two policy documents: The Territorial Agenda of the EU, and the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities.
Commissioner Hübner said: “Our regions and cities are on the front line of our common effort to deliver more growth, quality jobs and innovation across the Union. This ministerial meeting shows the importance the German Presidency is attaching to the link between territorial and urban development and the EU's Lisbon strategy for jobs and growth. The new cohesion policy programmes 2007-2013, and the priorities expressed in the Territorial Agenda and the Leipzig Charter make me firmly believe that we are on the right track to a more competitive and cohesive Union. We need cities in good shape, wisely using their resources in an innovative and sustainable way, cities for all, for us today and for future generations.”
Both documents put to the meeting say the involvement of Europe’s regions and cities in policy-making at EU level must be strengthened by addressing regions' and cities' diversity and identity and by giving them an active role in stimulating sustainable growth and higher employment.
The Territorial Agenda of the EU argues the benefits of pursuing an integrated territorial development policy. It calls for more cooperation and networking on territorial aspects in the future including on issues such as sustained economic growth and labour market policies, networking among urban regions and a modern understanding of urban and spatial development involving a broad range of regional and local players.
Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities argues that integrated urban planning approach is a prerequisite for sustainable development of European cities. Its key themes concern strategies for upgrading the urban fabric and for enhancing local economies and labour markets, clean urban transport and the integration of migrants.
This informal meeting brings together ministers from EU, accession and neighbouring countries. Previous informal ministerial meetings in Rotterdam, Luxembourg, Baden, Austria, and Espoo, Finland, have addressed the need for further cooperation on questions related to urban development and the EU territory. The Leipzig meeting will adopt the two documents, which lay down a roadmap for the years ahead. The EU supports convergence and competitiveness of regions and cities through its cohesion policy. About € 350 billion representing 35.6% of the total budget have been allocated for the period 2007-2013. Better cooperation on territorial issues comes mainly under the “European Territorial Cooperation” objective. Based on the experience of the INTERREG initiative, a total of € 8.7 billion from the European Regional Development Fund will be available for cross-border, transnational and interregional programmes supporting cooperation between regions on sustainable economic development. One of these programmes, the European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON), is specifically intended to build a European scientific community in the field of territorial development. As regards urban development, about € 19.5 billion has been earmarked to support EU cities 2007-2013. Of this, € 3.3 billion is for rehabilitation of industrial sites and contaminated land, € 8.3 billion for urban and rural regeneration projects, € 7 billion for urban transport and almost € 900 million for housing infrastructure. Altogether around one third of total cohesion policy resources will be invested in cities.
Website on the ministerial meeting (German EU Presidency): http://www.bmvbs.de/en/EU-Council-Presidency-,2619.982998/Informal-Ministerial-Meeting-o.htm
Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities (draft version): http://www.bmvbs.de/Anlage/original_995333/Leipzig-Charter-on-Sustainable-European-Cities-final-draft-2-May-2007.pdf
EU Territorial Agenda (draft version):