EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, hosted the first direct talks between the European Commission and the EU’s capital cities on February 28. Commissioner Hahn has consistently championed the cause of cities, arguing for greater attention to the development of Europe’s cities in decision making at a European level: in Cohesion Policy but also for a more prominent urban dimension across all EU policies. How future EU policies and investments will incorporate this will be a key element of the Mayors’ round-table discussion.
The event aimed to promote dialogue between the mayors of Europe’s capitals: between themselves, the European Commission and to mobilise them to fulfill the goals of the Europe2020 Agenda for Growth. A joint declaration was agreed by Commissioner Hahn, the mayors being present at the event, as well as by the mayors who could not attend the round table dialogue.
Opening the talks Commissioner Hahn said: “You – mayors of Europe’s capital cities – can really set a good example, and lead the way. Without you, the EU ‘s growth agenda Europe 2020 can never be a reality. The endorsement of this declaration represents a common understanding of the crucial role capital cities need to play in lifting Europe out of crisis.”
Commissioners Neelie Kroes for Digital Agenda and Janez Potočnik for Environment also participated in the meeting. Vice-President Kroes discussed the importance of ICT for smart growth in cities, especially with reference to the recently launched European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities1. She also underlined that getting fast internet connections everywhere in Europe is a key enabler for social and economic progress, requiring the appropriate level of support at EU level.
Commissioner Potočnik presented his ideas around green growth in an urban context; how the energy-saving and innovation potential of environmentally-friendly cities can improve people’s quality of life and increase competiveness. The European Commission has made a number of proposals to improve the delivery of investments in urban areas, in the reform of Cohesion Policy currently under discussion.