Brussels, 27 February 2013
Mobilising EU Capital Cities: Commissioner Hahn urges Mayors to lead Europe out of crisis
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will host the first direct talks between the European Commission and the EU's capital cities tomorrow, February 28.
Commissioner Hahn will call on the 20 mayors attending to show leadership in the push for recovery and growth. He has argued for a more central role for capital cities as Europe’s economic and social powerhouses. He is also pushing for a more prominent urban dimension in Cohesion Policy and across all EU policies.
The event aims to promote dialogue between the mayors of Europe’s capitals: between themselves, the European Commission and to mobilise them to fulfill the goals of the Europe2020 Agenda for Growth.
Commissioners Neelie Kroes for Digital Agenda and Janez Potočnik for Environment will also participate in the meeting. The mayors of Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Bratislava, Brussels, Bucharest, Lisbon, Ljubljana, Luxembourg, Madrid, Nicosia, Rome, Sofia, Stockholm, Tallinn, Valetta, Vienna, Vilnius, Warsaw and Zagreb - all present- will produce a joint statement on the role of cities and their central role as motors for sustainable, smart and inclusive growth. This statement will also be supported by a number of those mayors not able to attend.
Before the meeting Commissioner Hahn said, "Capital cities are where Europe's economic and social problems are often most concentrated and most visible. But they are also the powerhouses of Europe - where the most important solutions can be found: in the fields of competitiveness, employment, education, transport, environment and innovation. This makes them crucial in lifting Europe out of crisis. Without Europe's capital cities we cannot make the Europe2020 Growth Agenda a reality. That's why I am calling on the mayors to lead the way in lifting Europe out of crisis."
Commissioner Hahn has consistently championed the cause of cities, arguing for greater attention to the development of Europe's cities in decision making at a European level: in Cohesion Policy but also for a more prominent urban dimension across all EU policies. How future EU policies and investments will incorporate this will be a key element of the Mayors' round-table discussion.
At the meeting, Vice-President Kroes will discuss the importance of ICT for smart growth in cities, especially with reference to the recently launched European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities1. She will also underline that getting fast internet connections everywhere in Europe is a key enabler for social and economic progress, requiring the appropriate level of support at EU level.
Commissioner Potočnik will present his ideas around green growth in an urban context; how the energy-saving and innovation potential of environmentally-friendly cities can improve people's quality of life and increase competiveness. The European Commission has made a number of proposals to improve the delivery of investments in urban areas, in the reform of Cohesion Policy currently under discussion. These proposals stress an integrated approach to policy making. The Commission has proposed a greater delegation of powers to cities themselves, and the opportunity for cities to test out new approaches to keep up with new economic, environmental and social challenges.
Responding to this last point the recent deal on the EU's 2014-20 budget, still subject to the European Parliament's consent, ring fences around €330 million for innovative urban actions.
The event will be opened by Commissioner Hahn at 14.00 at the Berlaymont building in Brussels in the Walter Hallstein Conference Room. The closed door discussion will be followed by a Press Point and family photo at 16.00.
The recently renamed Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy has been given a new role by European Commission President Barroso to co-ordinate the urban policy initiatives of the European Union.
The need for a more coherent, joined-up approach is reflected in the European Commission’s proposals for the next Multiannual Financial Framework and proposals to reform rules on Cohesion Policy, making the case for a more integrated and effective approach to urban development. These proposals include a minimum of 5% of the European Regional Development Fund allocations in all Member States to be earmarked for integrated sustainable urban development.
The 5% is a minimum – there is no upper limit - that complements sectoral investments in urban areas; Since 2007, around €92 billion or close to 40% of total EU Regional funds, have been allocated to projects in cities. But these have largely followed a “sectoral approach” e.g. low carbon, transport, social inclusion projects, in which the cities themselves have had little say. The Commission is pushing for more holistic, integrated investments decided upon in partnership with cities.
As well as proposing a stronger role for urban authorities in implementing integrated urban initiatives, the Commission is also pushing for a code of conduct to strengthen local participation in the programming and implementation of the funds.
A further €330 million will be allocated to innovative actions in the field of sustainable urban development directly targeting urban authorities. These will be managed directly by the European Commission through Europe-wide calls for proposals for funding.
For more information: 'Cities of Tomorrow' Report
Sustainable Urban Development through EU Regional Policy:
Flagship Urban projects:
Follow Commissioner Hahn on Twitter: @JHahnEU