EESC: Influential voice in shaping EU's future urban policy

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Civil society’s voice will be heard when EU Ministers responsible for urban matters meet in Amsterdam on 30 May 2016 to adopt the new EU Urban Agenda.

The EU Urban Agenda aims to establish a new form of multi-level cooperation between Member States, Regions, representatives of Urban Authorities, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the EU's Advisory bodies (the EESC and the COR), the EIB and other relevant actors in order to strengthen the urban dimension of EU policy. Designed to stimulate innovation and growth, the agenda will directly influence the lives of the 80% of EU citizens forecast to be settled in towns and cities by 2050.

Joost van Iersel, President of EESC's ECO section and Roman Haken, rapporteur of the opinion on ‘The future of the EU Urban Agenda seen from the perspective of civil society’, will represent the EESC at the event, which has been organised under the auspices of the Dutch Presidency. Their attendance represents a continuation of the Committee’s pivotal role in shaping EU's urban agenda.

The resulting Agenda – to be agreed upon at the Ministerial meeting – will include proposals made in the EESC's opinion. For example, the recognition of cities as valuable partners in European integration and the acknowledgement of civil society organisations as equals in implementing the new Urban Agenda.

The Urban Agenda also foresees working in partnership to tackle complicated urban issues. In addition, the EESC suggests public-private partnerships (PPPs) as models for financing urban projects.

"Local strategies developed by partnerships with knowledge of the local situation are the best way to implement recommendations from the EU level effectively", notes Mr van Iersel. “It is essential that all regions of the EU are included in this, especially also from southern and eastern Europe,” says Mr Haken. “The Urban Agenda must also recognise the relationships between cities and towns and the adjacent/surrounding peri-urban areas which contribute to urban quality of life. The Agenda should not be in conflict with or limit the development of rural areas.”

In addition, as the EESC recommended, policy areas where the EU does not have competency – such as social matters – were included in the Agenda, such as the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

As Mr Haken concluded “only a self-confident and strong community will be able to deal with the urban challenges that are emerging”, and the EESC, as the voice of organised civil society organisations, will continue to play a strong role in working towards these objectives.

Mr Haken was also invited to present his opinion at the City Makers Summit, which runs concurrently with the informal Ministerial summit in Amsterdam. This Summit aims to pool knowledge from all over Europe, boost urban planning and demonstrate innovative ways of creating more liveable, thriving, resilient and inclusive cities. Initiatives to be highlighted include urban farming, reinforcement of industrial heritage, community enterprises and the inclusion of refugees. He is also invited as a speaker to the Committee of the Regions' Forum taking place on 30 May.


For more information, please contact:

Caroline ALIBERT-DEPREZ, EESC Press Unit

E-mail: pressateesc [dot] europa [dot] eu

Tel: + 32 2 546 9406 / +32 475 75 32 02



CP 40 ECO Urban Agenda