Today the European Commission unveiled the results of the public consultation on the EU Urban Agenda during the 2nd European CITIES Forum, in Brussels. The consultation shows that Europe can help cities address common challenges and, in turn, contribute to the Commission's priorities such as a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy.
The consultation shows a clear demand by stakeholders for more coordination between all of the EU policies with an urban dimension. On the basis of the wishes expressed in the public consultation the Commission is proposing the following approach:
1 – Focusing on specific priorities able to deliver and show results, such as smart cities; in particular when it comes to the low-carbon economy, climate-resilient cities and social inclusion.
2 – Applying better regulation tools effectively, withreinforced urban impact assessment and stronger stakeholder involvement.
3 - Better coherence and coordination of EUpolicies relating to cities, such as the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities (EIP-SCC), the Urban Innovative Actions or the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate ADAPT); assessing, revisiting, simplifying, streamlining and better focusing existing initiatives, making them more user-friendly, more efficient and with more synergies between them.
4 - Improved urban intelligence, benchmarking and monitoring: this means developing new data while also continuing to consolidate and harmonise the knowledge base of existing data sources, making them more complementary and more readily available.
Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President in charge of the Energy Union said: "Cities are a conduit for our transition to an energy efficient, sustainable, and prosperous future. The work of the Smart Cities is important for achieving progress on energy efficiency in and outside the EU. If we want cities to take ownership of our energy transition, we need to streamline and simplify EU's urban initiatives".
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu added: “After 20 years of debate, we are no longer discussing if we need an Urban Agenda but rather how we can begin to make it happen. The EU's ambitious objectives will only be reached with the support and active participation of its cities. The Urban Agenda is about enabling cities to fully contribute to our shared priorities and deliver concrete benefits for our citizens."
The Commission is now working closely with the Latvian and upcoming Luxembourgish and Dutch presidencies to turn the Urban Agenda into reality. The aim is to agree on a consolidated Agenda during the Dutch Presidency in 2016.
Europe's cities are the engines of the European economy, providing jobs and services, and serve as hubs that catalyse creativity and innovation. Almost 70% of the EU population now live in urban areas. However, they are also home to some of our greatest challenges: economic, social, environmental and demographic, which are often interrelated.
That is why a growing number of voices – at EU, national and local level – argue that an EU Urban Agenda is needed so that cities can provide their expertise in developing and putting EU policies into practice and, in turn, that these are better adapted to urban realities.
As a response, the European Commission adopted a Communication in July 2014 and launched a public consultation on an EU Urban Agenda. Its purpose was to widen the debate to all relevant stakeholders, to gather their ideas, and to further clarify what its objectives should be and how it could function.
The consultation has generated strong interest. Many respondents were local authority associations, trade and industry federations, civil society organisations, thus representing a much larger number of interested parties. In addition, some Member States have carried out national consultations with local authorities.
The Commission's Communication "The Urban Dimension of EU Policies"