Today, the Commission is taking part in the informal meeting in Amsterdam of the 28 Ministers in charge of urban matters, along with representatives from other EU Institutions and representatives of European cities, on the Urban Agenda for the EU.
The aim of today's meeting is to endorse the 'Pact of Amsterdam' which establishes the Urban Agenda for the EU and lays out its key principles.
At the heart of the Urban Agenda for the EU will be the development of 12 partnerships on 12 identified urban challenges. The partnerships will allow cities, Member States, EU Institutions and stakeholders, such as NGOs and business partners, to work together on an equal basis to find common ways to improve urban areas in the European Union.
In line with the Commission's commitment to Better Regulation, action plans designed by the partnerships will focus on a more effective and coherent implementation of existing EU policies in cities in the fields of environment, transport and employment, for example. It will also focus on easing access to EU funding, promoting combinations of EU funds and enhancing the knowledge base regarding urban matters and the exchange of best practices.
Four pilot partnerships have already started: on the inclusion of migrants, coordinated by the city of Amsterdam; on air quality, coordinated by the Netherlands; on housing, coordinated by Slovakia; and on urban poverty, coordinated by Belgium and France. The remaining partnerships will be launched between the end of 2016 and the summer of 2017.
Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President in charge of the Energy Union, said: "Cities are living laboratories in the transition to a low-carbon economy. The European Commission works hand in hand with mayors and regional authorities to enable them to showcase the good examples as an incentive and a source of inspiration to others, in Europe as well as outside Europe".
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: "Cities are hubs of creativity and engines of European growth, but they face major challenges, such as social exclusion, air pollution or unemployment. We need to tackle these problems together. Our commitment to having an Urban Agenda shows that we are putting urban matters higher on our agenda and are ready to listen more to our cities when it comes to what works for them and what needs to be improved."
A 2014 Commission Communication laid the groundwork for an Urban Agenda for the EU. A subsequent public consultation demonstrated a wish amongst EU citizens to have the Commission more involved in urban matters.
In the Riga Declaration, Member States expressed their support for the Urban Agenda for the EU, as did the EU Institutions and many European cities.
The Pact of Amsterdam will be on the agenda of the General Affairs Council* on 21 June 2016.
1) Inclusion of migrants and refugees; 2) Air quality; 3) Urban poverty; 4) Housing; 5) Circular economy; 6) Jobs and skills in the local economy; 7) Climate adaptation; 8) Energy transition
9) Sustainable use of land and Nature-Based solutions; 10) Urban mobility; 11) Digital transition; 12) Innovative and responsible public procurement.
*Updated on 30/05/2016 at 14:15, changed “European Council” to “General Affairs Council”.