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'The development of our cities will determine the future economic, social and territorial development of the European Union'

(18 June 2013)

'The development of our cities will determine the future economic, social and territorial development of the European Union'

Today in Brussels Commissioner Hahn gave a keynote speech at a conference organised by the European Commission, the European Parliament and URBACT, the EU programme promoting sustainable urban development.

He stressed that " Europe cannot tackle today's challenges without the active input of cities. It is no overstatement to say that development of our cities will determine the future economic, social and territorial development of the European Union. Cities will be pivotal in achieving the ambitions of Europe 2020. And – whether you are thinking of the environment, the economy, or social cohesion -  if we can’t get it right in our cities, we won’t get it right at all."

 

Speaking about URBACT, the Commissioner added "There are no easy solutions to any of these challenges, but URBACT - through its extensive network of urban experts and city partners throughout all of Europe - is an ideal mechanism to test innovative approaches that others can take up. … We need to make sure that we learn from each other and get it right; focus on the right issues, and find the smartest way of working with scarce resources, to exploit to the full the potential of our cities."

 

During this conference, a recently published study "Urban Development in the EU: 50 Projects Supported by the ERDF in 2007-2013" was presented as well as a collection of 6 thematic reports: "Cities of Tomorrow: Action Today" responding to the key urban challenges of the 21st century: Shrinking Cities: Challenges and Opportunities; More Jobs: Better Cities; Supporting Young People through Social Innovation; Against Divided Cities in Europe; Motivating Mobility Mindsets; and Building Energy Efficiency in European Cities. These reports provide evidence of sustainable urban development strategies pulling together the environmental, social and economic pillars of the Europe2020 Strategy, while also adopting an integrated and participative approach, essential in these times of scarce public resources.

 

In the new ERDF regulation, specific Investment Priorities will explicitly target urban areas, e.g., promoting low-carbon strategies for urban areas; improving the urban environment, including the regeneration of brownfield sites and the reduction of air pollution; promoting sustainable urban mobility. It is expected that round 40% of structural funds spending will benefit cities, but under the new reformed Regional Policy these investments will be focussed much more clearly than before to help cities address their challenges, - and help the EU harness the power of cities in the fields of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. 

 

More information on EU urban policy