The EESC welcomes the EU Urban Agenda (EU UA), the Dutch Presidency's initiative which will directly influence the lives of the 80% of EU citizens forecast to be living in towns and cities by 2050.
The EESC underlines that:
- it is important to ensure that civil society organisations will be equal partners in discussions and implementation of the EU UA;
- local strategies developed by local partnerships with knowledge of the local situation are the best way to effectively implement recommendations from the EU level;
- cities need a mechanism for strengthening citizens. Only a self-confident and strong community will be able to deal with the challenges that are emerging. Therefore the EESC recommends including "Urban Communities and Citizens Participation" as a new cross-cutting theme in the EU UA;
- it is essential that all regions of the EU are equally included (especially in southern and eastern Europe);
- the EU UA must recognise the relationships between cities and towns and the adjacent/surrounding peri-urban areas which contribute to urban quality of life;
- the EU UA should not be in conflict with or limit the development of rural areas;
- it is necessary to ensure that measures to improve the situation in one area do not have an adverse effect on another area;
- policy areas where the EU does not have competency, such as social matters, should also be included.