Brussels, 22 July 2014
Commissioner Hahn urges Europeans to help shape a future EU Urban Agenda
Johannes Hahn, EU Regional Policy Commissioner is asking EU citizens to share their views on an EU Urban Agenda - what form it should take and how it should be put into action. The Commissioner is calling for a wide engagement by stakeholders and city dwellers in a public consultation alongside a formal Communication just published by the European Commission. It follows a growing number of calls for more involvement of cities in the design of EU policies and a greater coherence in the way Europe's institutions tackle urban challenges.
The Commission's Communication "The Urban Dimension of EU Policies" describes the situation of cities across the EU and urban policies in the Member States as well as the global dimension of urbanisation. It stresses that an EU Urban Agenda should reflect the EU’s overall objectives and must also complement national policies in the Member States. Commissioner Johannes Hahn who is responsible for EU Regional and Urban Policy commented: "From pollution to poverty, from unemployment to energy, we cannot confront Europe's challenges or achieve its goals unless we tackle these issues in Europe's cities. An EU Urban Agenda must respect subsidiarity – but where we can improve EU policies, by strengthening the urban dimension, we should do this, as well as giving Europe's cities a bigger role as partners for the EU. Today's consultation is an important step in achieving this."
He added: "More than two thirds of people live in Europe's cities so it is right that our reform of EU Cohesion Policy is already putting cities and urban development higher on the political agenda. An EU Urban Agenda goes further - now we want to hear the views of key stakeholders and those who live in cities themselves. We believe that by raising the profile of towns and cities in our policymaking, the EU will respond more effectively to the changing needs not only of those who live in urban areas but the many who live outside cities but depend on their services".
While 72 % of the total EU population live in cities, towns and suburbs, this proportion is likely to reach more than 80% by 2050. The communication states that over two-thirds of all EU policies directly or indirectly affect towns and cities – such as in the fields of transport, energy, and environment. An Urban Agenda would aim for a more integrated approach to policy development, to ensure consistency and avoid contradictions.
The public consultation is open until 26 September 2014 to consultation) It asks key questions like: Why have an EU urban agenda? How tight a focus should it have? Where can EU action bring most added value? Should cities be involved in policymaking? And if so how?
Among the many who have called for an EU Urban Agenda, are the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee as well as city associations themselves. The Commission organised a CITIES Forum in February this year to pursue the idea.
Under the Greek Presidency, EU Ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy called, in April this year, for such an Agenda to be taken forward with input from the local, regional, national and EU levels.