On 3-4 April, the EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum held a meeting in Lisbon.
A record number of 140 representatives from over 40 cities gathered to discuss effective ways to prevent and respond to deep-seated poverty and rising inequality in cities.
The event was opened by Fernando Medina, mayor of Lisbon, followed by a video message from MEP Maria João Rodrigues (S&D, Portugal), who called on cities to use their influence to make EU funding post- 2020 more accessible to cities.
Through a mix of presentations, debates, workshops, exchanges, and a political side event, the forum participants shared coherent policies and city strategies proven to work in addressing the challenges of urban poverty and rising inequality.
The three key messages were:
■ Cities need better access to EU funding to be able to do more to fight against poverty and inequality
■ They need better, integrated policies at EU and national level to combine preventive measures with activation measures
■ Cities want to do more but cannot do it alone; they need to cooperate and coordinate with other levels of government, such as via the urban partnerships set up under the Urban Agenda for the EU
These points were highlighted in a video message delivered by the chair and vice chair of the social affairs forum – respectively Laia Ortiz, deputy mayor of Barcelona, and Andreas Schönström, deputy mayor of Malmo – and addressed to the EU institutions and national governments.
Deputy mayors present in Lisbon and representatives of EU civil society organisations also discussed housing poverty. They agreed that access to affordable and quality housing should be a basic social right for all people, and that a legal framework against speculations on the housing market is much needed together with regulations to protect tenants already residing in their own homes. The city representatives identified bottom-up strategies decided together with citizens as being the most effective. As for the future, local politicians called for a change from short-term EU projects to long-term social investments centred on people’s needs.
The next SAF meeting will take place in Gothenburg in late October.