Today, 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66% by 2050, according to the United Nations. In Europe, cities provide up to 85% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Taking these two factors into account, the Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO Section) of the European Economic and Social Committee organised - within the European Week of Regions and Cities - a workshop on Cities as poles of up-to-date economic development, with three examples of "model to follow" cities: Lisbon, Bristol, and Lodz, where competitiveness, innovation and creativity co-exist on a large scale ...
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On 3 and 4 October 2016, Mr Roman Haken participated in the Meeting of Directors General responsible for Urban Matters in Bratislava. This meeting was attended by the European Commission, Member States, the Committee of the Regions, ESPON, URBACT, EUKN, EIB, CEMR, Eurocities and other stakeholders. The complex agenda, prepared by the Slovak Presidency, was chaired by Ms Elena Szolgayova, Director General of DG Housing Policy and Urban Development, Slovak Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development.
Participants in the discussion with the president of the CoR, Markku Markkula, agreed that the agendas of the European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee were often aligned and that both advisory bodies should step up their cooperation in order to benefit from these synergies.
On 7 June 2016, in Warsaw, Mr Baráth participated as a speaker in a conference on "Achieving Good Living Environment: Territory Matters. What's beyond 2030 for Macro-Regions?" organised by VASAB, an intergovernmental multilateral co-operation of 11 Baltic Sea Region countries in spatial planning and development, in order to bring a regional input into the implementation of European territorial cohesion objective.
On 3 May 2016 Prof. Jo Coenen, Curating Director of IBA Parkstad invited Mr van Iersel, ECO Section President, Mr Palmieri, president, and Mr Haken, rapporteur of the EESC opinion on the Future of the EU Urban Agenda, to visit IBA Parkstad in Heerlen, Netherlands.
In the context of the work on the EESC opinion on the EU Urban Agenda requested by the Dutch Presidency, the EESC, on the initiative of rapporteur Mr Haken co-organised, together with the Municipality of Prague 14, a study visit to Prague on 1 December 2015.
The purpose of this visit was to gain first-hand insight on urban challenges and potential while experiencing two extremely different sides of Prague (a problem faced by so many other European cities requiring complex solutions). Following their visit to the city centre, the EESC members of the study group together with experts in urban planning and local stakeholders spent a day in Černý Most.
Mr van Iersel, President of the ECO Section, attended the Informal Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Urban Matters which took place on 27 November 2015 in Luxembourg. Topics raised concerned the possible added-value of small and mediums-sized cities in cross-border regions, the progress towards the EU Urban Agenda, the urban challenges of the refugee situation and most importantly the Luxembourg Presidency Conclusions, a document which sums up the high-level representatives’ declared opinion on the aforementioned matters (see below). This meeting was an essential milestone towards the EU Urban Agenda, a brand new initiative which the EESC has requested for years.
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