Making urban voices count!

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2019-11-20 Anna Lisa Boni. Secretary general, EUROCITIES

As the network of large European cities, EUROCITIES works to advance policy developments that will ultimately impact urban areas. Given that this is true for the majority of legislation from the European institutions, we constantly have our hands full!

We do this in a number of ways. For instance, our experts often work in an advisory capacity with the European Commission. I have recently been selected as one of the 15 experts composing the Commission’s board that has been set up to inspire a carbon neutral and smart cities mission with a view to feeding into the future Horizon Europe programme.

Our advocacy is based on bringing evidence from the city level to European level to highlight where there may be gaps in policy or where structures need updating. This has been one of the successes of the Urban Agenda for the EU, which has brought together policy makers from different levels of government to discuss common challenges.

The partnership approach, which is embedded in the functioning of the Urban Agenda, has created a framework for co-creating solutions involving multiple levels of government and stakeholders that would not otherwise have happened. EUROCITIES actively participates in all the partnerships, bringing expertise on urban development from a Europe-wide perspective, as well as on challenges related to EU rules and financial tools. To date, these partnerships have generated many notable results, such as a recommendation on direct access to EU funding for cities for the integration of migrants and refugees, better matching allocated resources with local responsibilities.

Of course, when it comes to EU policy, one big beast that cannot be ignored in European circles this year is the future EU budget, which will significantly impact the shape and ambition of much EU legislation, including the above points.

In deciding on their political ambitions EU member states should take care to match them with adequate financial resources that deliver results to people in all cities and regions across Europe. In this regard we’re advocating that cohesion policy must remain a top priority in the next EU budget if we want to ensure a sustainable, inclusive, democratic and prosperous future for all.

The main concern for EUROCITIES is how to make better use of cohesion policy to bring the European project closer to the citizens. As cities, we support a stronger and more united Europe, and we work locally to reach those who are most in need. To achieve this, it must be able to deliver faster and better solutions to the problems people face. We acknowledge and fully support the European Commission’s efforts to simplify the rules. At the same time, we need to make sure that the funds can be used more effectively to respond to local challenges.

This means we are aiming to ensure stronger guarantees for cities to be involved in shaping cohesion policy programmes. While also making sure that the rules actively help cities to address complex problems by combining support across the different funds more easily.

It's clear that the future of Europe depends on its cities, and that’s why we’re here, making the voices of cities count!