Today, I am taking over the chair of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities from my colleague, EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc.

Cities are where most Europeans live and work, and where many new companies in the digital economy are created. Digitization is affecting cities no matter what their size or location is. To enable cities and communities to face the digital challenges we have set up the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities in 2012, an initiative that I share with Commissioners Bulc and Miguel AriaS Cañete.

This partnership is now in delivery mode by moving towards actual deployment. The cities involved in it and their industrial partners are getting together to build capacity, launch new projects, and test new business models - and to engage with vendors to improve existing business solutions. By joining forces, bundling demand and sharing risks, the process of coping with digital challenges will be faster and cheaper. The first hurdles have been taken, and over the next twelve months the partnership will focus on deepening cooperation in some areas but notably on deployment in others, such as Humble Lampposts, urban platforms and new services for improving mobility like smart parking.

Other EU initiatives will support cities further, like the new Cities Portal which was launched in October and where cities find all relevant information on policies, funding and networks. In our research fund Horizon 2020, there are dedicated calls for cities to be part of lighthouse projects which will deploy integrated solutions for the energy, transport and ICT sectors. Last but not least, the European Fund for Strategic Investments should provide cities with opportunities for investing in infrastructure. In addition, we also see potential in linking cities to smart corridors for connected and autonomous driving, creating a dedicated investment platform for cities, and launching a 5G city challenge. We will explore all these ideas with the relevant stakeholders.

We want to make our cities as creative, attractive and sustainable as possible. We have the right mix of expertise at hand and have started the digitization of our cities early on. I am looking forward to chairing and working with this partnership to make cities' journey to the digital future a success.

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