Inspiring non-EU countries
EU Urban Policy presented at World Cities closing conference in Mumbai
On Saturday 23 January 2016, Director General for Regional and Urban Policy Walter Deffaa addressed the closing conference in Mumbai, India held under the EU's highly successful World Cities project. The project, which originates in a proposal of the European Parliament, provides for the pairing of city authorities and actors in Europe with their counterparts in, respectively, India, Canada, China and Japan. Participating in the Mumbai event were the Indian cities of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Chandigarh and Pune and their EU counterparts, respectively, Stuttgart (Germany), Lazio Region (Italy), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Andalucía Smart City (Spain). The project is implemented in India in partnership with the Mumbai First organization.
In his keynote address to the conference, Walter Deffaa said that developing the urban agenda was a priority for the EU. He added, "We have a two-pronged approach which, inside EU, uses the regulatory and investment means at our disposal as well as developing knowledge networks between our cities and, outside the EU, seeks to enrich and strengthen our urban policy capability through cooperation with major cities in other countries". He stressed the part which the private sector on each side can play in such cooperation, by helping to ensure that ideas are converted into projects on the ground, and the generation of new opportunities, in both India and the EU.
Mr. N. Nayar, Chairman, Mumbai First, expressed his deep appreciation for the excellent co-operation with EU cities and said that “We are committed to continue working with the European Union in new initiatives which will contribute to addressing Mumbai’s urban and environmental challenges”.
The conference was informed of the progress made under the different pairings between the EU and Indian cities respective: for Mumbai-Stuttgart, the exchanges covered the development of a climate change partnership, and discussed Mumbai Metropolitan Region's Environmental Database. Under the Navi Mumbai-Lazio relationship the cities have reviewed the economic, social and environmental dimensions of urban development policy, governance issues relating to urban planning, public participation, regulatory matters and urban transport solutions. For Copenhagen – Chandigarh, the focus was on ways to convert urban waste into a resource, non-motorized transportation and sewage treatment methods. Under the Pune- Andalucía Smart City pairing the focus was on the different dimensions of smart city policy in managing urban services and promoting quality of life for the urban population.
Mr Deffaa concluded his keynote speech by speaking of future prospects for EU-India cooperation. He said, "The method that we in the European Commission and our city partners have so successfully developed under our World Cities project is being followed from 2016 by a larger, more ambitious International Urban Cooperation Programme to bring together city and regional actors, including the private sector. It will include a specific component for EU-India exchange of experience and know-how".
The World Cities event in Mumbai joined forces with part of the annual "Stuttgart meets Mumbai" bilateral meeting, which, among other things, helped to raise awareness among a wider audience in Mumbai on World Cities cooperation between the EU and India.
Walter Deffaa addresses EU-China Summit events
The Director General for Regional and Urban Policy spoke on 29 June 2015 at the EU-China Urbanisation Forum Partnership Forum in the afternoon plenary session on 'Cooperation, Innovation and Practices'. The plenary sessions had earlier been opened officially by President Juncker and Premier Li Keqiang.
In Mr Deffaa's speech at the roundtable on "sustainable urban mobility", he drew attention to the many adverse effects of transport systems in Europe as they exist at present in terms of congestion, air and noise pollution and damage to health. He said, "We have developed many bad habits and implemented many bad policies over decades. We have to change; there is no other option."
Earlier in a day which saw many activities relating to regional and urban policy, Walter Deffaa gave the keynote introduction to the 10th High-Level Seminar on Regional Policy Cooperation, which was a Side Event of the EU-China Summit, where he was accompanied by Mr Zou Yong, Deputy Director General ofRegional Economy in the National Development and Reform Commission, China and Mr Lambert Van Nistelrooij, MEP.
Later, in the evening, a Joint Statement was signed "On Comprehensively Deepening EU-China Regional Policy Cooperation" by Mr XU Shaoshi, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and Commissioner Carlos Moedas (acting on behalf of Commissioner Corina Creţu).
REGIO is cooperating with NDRC since the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding on regional policy cooperation in 2006 in Beijing. The dialogue has progressed well, giving rise to many actions including a yearly high-level dialogue and high-level seminar. At the 10th High-Level seminar of 29 June 2015 a comprehensive report on the cooperation on regional policy was officially launched describing the many activities that have taken place, bringing benefits to the public and private sectors on both sides.
The EU-China Urbanisation Partnership was launched by former President Barroso and Premier Li Keqiang in May 2012. The central event of the Partnership, the EU-China Urbanisation Forum, has taken place alongside the Summit.
Additional information the EU-China Summit:
Additional information on EU-China cooperation on regional policy:
In the international relations arena, the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy acts in support of, and in cooperation with the External Relations family of Directorates General (European External action Service EEAS and DEVCO) and with DG TRADE. There is a growing interest in different parts of world in the process of European integration, not just from an institutional point of view but also in terms of the policies that promote European cohesiveness. First and foremost among the latter is European regional policy which seeks to ensure that the benefits of the single market in Europe based on the free movement of goods and services, labour and capital, are as widely spread as possible.
Principal among the features of EU regional policy that are of interest to third countries such as China, Russia and Brazil, as well as to international organisations such as MERCOSUR and ASEAN, are the financial dimension and the geographical targeting of resources between Member States and regions; the geographical and strategic objectives; and the different dimensions of the implementation system. So far as countries in the European Neighbourhood are concerned the EU wishes to promote key concepts of EU regional policy such as open markets, respect for the environment, participative democracy and partnership in the conception and implementation of development policy.
This interest comes at a time when the policy has undergone substantial changes. In effect, EU regional policy today is a means of delivering the Union's policy priorities across its territory. It does so by co-financing integrated, national or regional investment programmes, where the Union's contribution to the programmes is greatest in the least prosperous areas.
Today therefore, EU regional policy is an integral part of economic policy, but with the unique feature that it is delivered with the consent and involvement of the grassroots through a multi-level governance system where each level - European, national, regional and local - has a role to play. The involvement of the grassroots, for example, in devising regional and local strategies and selecting projects creates a sense of ownership of European policy and in that way contributes to territorial integration. It is these features that have inspired interest in large countries with major territorial imbalances that are seeking to combine the pursuit of a more even pattern of growth with governance systems that contribute to transparent public policies and that help to further integration through decentralisation.
As well as projecting notions of inter-regional solidarity and good governance, cooperation in the field of regional policy also provides the opportunity to project other values such as respect for the free market through competition, state aid and public procurement rules, for environmental rules and policies and for equal opportunities and minority rights. These create the framework conditions under which EU financial support is granted and provide positive incentives to achieving high standards in public policy.
Regional Policy Dialogues
The Commission, DG REGIO, has concluded formal agreements on regional policy cooperation with China , Russia , Brazil , and Ukraine , Georgia , Moldova , Chile , Peru , Argentina (in progress), Japan , Mexico , Sistema de Integracion de Centro-America (SICA) , Colombia . These countries are confronted with wide regional disparities as well as major challenges in terms of coordinating the different levels of government, and ensuring that decentralization can be achieved without compromising efficiency.