Conference of the Mayors of the 27 EU capital cities: opening remarks by Janez Potočnik
Type: Complete speech
Brussels - EC/Berlaymont
On 28 February 2012, Johannes Hahn, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy, hosted the first direct talks between the European Commission and the EU's capital cities.The meeting brought together 20 mayors from capital cities. It aimed to promote a regular dialogue between the capitals and the European Commission and to mobilize them as key European actors in fulfilling the goals of the Europe2020 Agenda for Growth.
This video shows an opening remark by Janez Potočnik, Member of the EC in charge of Environment.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Soundbite by Janez Potočnik, Member of the EC in charge of Environment (in ENGISH) saying that it is a pleasure to be here today. Saying that he finds it extremely encouraging that they have established a network and exchange good practices among each other. Cities and their citizens can play a crucial role with regard to environment and sustainability. Cities are also engines of economic growth, job creation and innovation. Saying that the challenge for him is to ensure that this growth goes hand in hand with quality and sustainability. That is why the Commission proposals for the new generation of environment policy – the 7th Environmental Action Programme – have dedicated more attention to cities! Saying that everybody present today come from large cities. They benefit from economies of scale effects, but unsustainable patterns of growth too often lead to negative environmental impacts, which can reach a point where metropolitan areas become less competitive. Not to mention, less healthy. This not only influences the attractiveness of a given city to firms and skilled workers, but can also lead to direct costs in the long run, for instance, higher health costs and lost working time linked to pollution. This is where the concept of resource efficiency becomes particularly appealing for cities. You can only win. Policies that promote energy efficiency, reduce energy and resource consumption and waste, and increase the attractiveness of the urban environment, support also urban economic growth. Saying that Cities have a key role to play in the economic transformation toward resource efficiency. They have a number of instruments in their hands, such as green public procurement, waste and water management, improved mobility, green infrastructure and efficient land use, housing improvements, stimulating eco-product markets, and urban planning. Saying that European cities can already benefit from a range of EU policies and initiatives that support sustainable development of urban areas. It is important, that EU institutions and Member States work together with cities to improve the uptake of EU funding available under the Cohesion policy and other funds. Saying that he has declared this year a "Year of Air". Saying that they cannot talk air quality without cities. Air quality is an EU policy with a long history and considerable successes, but also some major outstanding problems. Support will be provided for air quality assessment and management at urban and regional level. Mentioning a joint DG Environment – European Environment Agency Air Pilot to share experience on air quality assessment and management in eight cities across the EU – Madrid, Malmo, Vienna, Berlin, Ploiesti, Milan, Dublin and Prague. Five of them are capital cities. Saying that he is confident that this pilot will lead to useful additional insights for developing strengthened implementation programmes as part of the 2013 Air policy review. Finally, the European capitals represent some of the best examples of the European city model. Saying that they can learn a lot from them.Each year a city in Europe is chosen for the European Green Capital Award. Today they have with them Stockholm, which was the first European Green Capital. Copenhagen will hold the title in 2014. Their Green Business Model provides an important role for public-private partnerships and seems to have a potential for replication. The current European Green Capital competition is on-going with many capitals applying for the 2015 title.