International Urban Cooperation (IUC)

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    From 16-18 July 2018, the Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu, led a team from the Commission to China for the annual EU-China High-Level dialogue on regional and urban policy, which was held at the headquarters of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in Beijing. She also addressed the Thirteenth High Level Seminar on “Regional Innovation and High-Quality Development of Regional Economy” held in the city of Zhengzhou. Since mid-2017, Zhengzhou has been one of 5 Chinese participants in city-to-city cooperation under the EU’s International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme alongside 5 EU counterparts (www.iuc.eu).   

    At the High-level dialogue, NDRC was represented by Vice-Chairman, LIN Nianxiu. He said, “the EU dialogue on regional policy has been a model for other EU-China sectoral dialogues”. Commissioner Creţu and Vice-chairman Lin agreed that the regional policy seminar should be upgraded to a Forum in the main programme of the EU-China summit of 2019 in Brussels. Under IUC, it was agreed to launch a joint study on regional innovation strategies and policies and to add more cities on each side to city-to-city cooperation.   The meeting concluded with the signature of a Joint Declaration by the current (2018) generation of EU and Chinese cities, witnessed by the Commissioner and the Vice Chairman. 

    At the seminar,  Commissioner Creţu delivered the closing remarks alongside the Executive Deputy Mayor of Zhengzhou (and acting Mayor) and the Executive Vice Governor of Henan province, whom, earlier, she had met bilaterally. She said that the IUC is “the most ambitious effort to promote decentralised cooperation between EU regions and cities, and their counterparts across the world” and that  the programme was about  creating “an international community of cities”.   She used the occasion to announce the launch of a competitive start-up fund under IUC to award technical assistance to selected high quality proposals leading to short-term actions within the city-to-city pairings. Two senior members of the European Parliament also spoke at the seminar, Mr Jan Olbrycht and Mr Lambert Van Nistelrooij where they underlined their support for international diplomacy at the regional and city level , and the importance of city-to-city cooperation under IUC. They were part of a group of MEPs on a fact-finding mission to China taking place at the same time as the Commissioner’s visit.

    From 16 to 19 July, Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Crețu is in China. Monday in Beijing, the Commissioner will participate in the annual EU-China High Level Regional Policy Dialogue with Vice-Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of the People's Republic of China, Mr Lin Nianxiu. On this occasion, and in the context of the EU’s new International Urban Cooperation programme, five joint declarations are planned for signature between Chinese and European cities: Kunming and Granada (ES); Haikou and Nice (FR); Yantai and Rome (IT); Liuzhou and Barnsley (UK) and Weinan and Reggio Emilia (IT).

    Wednesday in Zhengzhou, Commissioner Creţu will deliver the closing remarks at the EU–China High Level Forum: Innovation for Green and Smart Cities, a side event in the EU-China Summit taking place on  16-17 July in Beijing.

    "My visit to China symbolises our excellent cooperation on regional and urban development policy over the last 12 years," said Commissioner Creţu, "Under our International Urban Cooperation Programme, EU and Chinese cities exchange best practices and develop solutions to tackle common challenges linked to urbanisation, with commitment and hard work on both sides."

    The dialogue with China on regional policy was launched in 2006. Since then, both sides have met annually in 'High-Level Meetings' and agreed joint statements setting out work priorities.

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Sustainable and innovative cities and regions – 2016/2019

Connecting cities and ideas for better urban living

Cities are growing and changing so fast that many authorities are struggling to cope. More people can mean more economic activity and wealth, but it can also mean added strain on energy, water, health, transport and housing facilities. All this, in turn, puts pressure on the environment, and more widely on climate change.

This is why the European Union is launching a three-year programme to promote international urban cooperation. Europe’s cities want to link up, build and share knowledge and solutions with other cities and regions.

In this first phase of a long-term strategy of fostering urban diplomacy – a vehicle of EU external relations – the IUC boosts sectoral, transversal and international urban cooperation and exchange with key city partners (public and private) in Asia and the Americas (box). With a budget of over EUR 20 million, IUC activities support Habitat III goals as well as the Paris COP 21 declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The IUC will build on existing cooperation through:

  • City-to-city cooperation on sustainable urban development
  • Sub-national action under the Global Covenant of Mayors initiative
  • Inter-regional cooperation on innovation for local and regional development

Target countries include China, India, Japan, Canada, Mexico, USA, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru. For the Covenant initiative, South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)  are included.

City-to-city cooperation on sustainable urban development

Building on the success of the World Cities project and drawing on the solid approach of the EU-funded URBACT network, city pairs will be supported in their efforts to design, implement and manage sustainable urban practices in an integrated and participative way. Local action plans will be developed through an inclusive multi-stakeholder process and include specific activities and economically viable pilot projects to be implemented in the short term in order to ensure results and open up market opportunities. These plans will help drive thematic clustering of knowledge, exchange and best practices among cities facing similar challenges.

Sub-national action under the Global Covenant of Mayors initiative

Cities and other sub-national authorities will be encouraged to join a global initiative to tackle climate change challenges focused on mitigation, adaptation and universal access to energy, in line with the principles of the EU Covenant of Mayors. Support on methodologies, governance, training and capacity building will be provided, as well as technical assistance to encourage implementation of ambitious climate commitments. A powerful knowledge-sharing element will spur inter-city cooperation, learning and innovation.

Inter-regional cooperation on innovation for local and regional development

Support will focus on ways to improve and internationalise regional innovation and cooperation in and between the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean. The programme will stimulate the development or strengthening of regional strategies involving SMEs in the innovation sector, and it will promote international value chains.  It will collect and share experience, good practice and lessons learnt to enable knowledge management and development.  The Smart Specialisation (S3) platform established by the European Commission will act as a multiplier to further promote knowledge sharing inside the EU as well.

Tackling the funding gap

To address a recognised barrier for progress on urban development, the IUC programme will engage with major international financial institutions and partners to link city decision-makers with potential funders. EU business will be an important partner for activities under the components on sustainable urban development.

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