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Turning Cities into Centres of Opportunity: Commissioner Hahn Shares EU Experience at World Urban Forum in Medellin

(08 April 2014)

Turning Cities into Centres of Opportunity: Commissioner Hahn Shares EU Experience at World Urban Forum in Medellin

Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for Regional and Urban Policy, has told the World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia that cities can no longer be an afterthought in policy making, but an explicit priority.

Representing the EU at the event, which is organised by UN-Habitat the United Nations' Human Settlements Programme, Commissioner Hahn was addressing more than 80 national ministers at a special roundtable event.

He said: "Creating decent living and working conditions for the people of the 21st century, is increasingly a challenge that must be tackled in cities. My message today is that if we are to succeed, we need really effective multilevel governance, to bring the international, the national and the city level together. I believe there is no one single model for the cities of tomorrow, but we can learn from each other. "

"Today, nearly three quarters of our 500 million inhabitants in the EU live in cities. We are the second most urbanised continent behind Latin America, though our cities are smaller on average and tend to be more evenly spread across our territory. "One of my priorities as European Commissioner has been to develop the effectiveness of our urban policies. In the EU we are following a strategy – called Europe 2020 - that attempts to build smart, inclusive and green growth. It is clear that Europe 2020 cannot be implemented without cities. It is in the centres of population that the strategy will be rolled out, and if we do not succeed in cities, we will not succeed at all. "

"Co-ordinating action in cities is a challenge inside every administration. No one can afford the luxury of operating along sectorial lines with individual ministries or departments acting separately. To create cities of opportunity, we must do better.  Furthermore, cities themselves must be given a bigger voice. I have argued to give cities more say in the programming of European funds. And, beyond this, I believe they should be more present in national and international debates on human development. The cities are at the sharp end, and we should listen to them."

"Together – from the global to the local level -we have to ensure that cities are no longer an afterthought in our policy making, but an explicit priority."


For full speech click here

For more information, please see IP/14/379

European Urban Agenda – Issues Paper