EU Urban Agenda can help create sustainable cities for Europe's citizens but greater political will still needed

kr1Pact of Amsterdam "a milestone for Europe" but cooperation and commitment among governments must be strengthened if it is to truly benefit citizens

​ The Pact for the Urban Agenda adopted by EU ministers in Amsterdam on 30 May can make real progress in resolving vital challenges such as air quality, migrant inclusion, housing and urban poverty. But it must now be properly implemented with long-term commitment given by all levels of government.

During the Forum on the EU Urban Agenda, organised by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in cooperation with the Association of Netherlands Municipalities, the Association of the Provinces of the Netherlands, the City of Amsterdam and the Province of Noord-Holland, EU local leaders welcomed the launch of the EU Urban Agenda as a long awaited achievement.

" Having waited over a decade, the EU Urban Agenda is a milestone for Europe. By integrating important EU legislation whilst engaging every level of government, laws and policies can better meet the needs of our ever expanding cities. The Urban Agenda shows that the EU is committed to better – not more – regulation. But we are at the very beginning and its success depends on the continuous commitment from all decision makers including the EU institutions, Member States, cities and regions. I call on all pioneering cities to take now the lead ", remarked Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions.

Opening the Forum together with President Markkula, the Mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, argued that: " Throughout history, cities have been the engines for growth and the arena for European social, economic and cultural innovation. Their citizens are at the heart of Europe's great potential. When implementing the Urban Agenda, our citizens' concerns and contributions should be the focus point. "

The call for a full acknowledgement of cities' role was shared by Ronald Plasterk, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom relations, who said that: “ This is the moment to establish the importance of the city for innovation, for the growth of the economy, for personal development of citizens and creativity. And also to develop a new way of working where a central government does not decide everything. Instead we want to ensure in cooperation with all stakeholders - citizens, cities, governments, European institutions - that cities are best positioned to guarantee a good quality of life of their citizens . "

The EU Urban Agenda was introduced to involve local and regional authorities in the design of EU and national policies to improve their effectiveness. The Agenda will allow local and regional authorities to work with EU and national institutions to develop action plans in response to major urban challenges such as air quality, migrant inclusion, urban poverty and housing. The proposals will allow the different levels of government to launch joint initiatives and feed into the shaping of new legislation and improve existing EU rules.

A one-stop-shop will be also created by the European Commission to support local and regional authorities on urban-related EU policies and tools. The aim is to promote cities' access to funding but also to identify all existing policies and opportunities addressed to urban areas, increasing their coordination.

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