Reinventing cities – beyond the urban crises
300+ participants per session
3+ EU representatives
Our session on ‘Future cities – do cities have a future?’ was extremely well received by the audience, who appreciated the frankness and optimistic views on the opportunities cities are capable of picking up from the current crises, and using to innovate and reform our living environment. Read a full write-up of the session here.
The session ‘A stronger future: resilient cities’ with Commission vice president Šefčovič has delivered a clear commitment from cities to work closer with the European institutions, that highlighted the contributions cities can make in policy foresight, and the request from the vice president to cities for concrete proposals on how to go about this. Read a full write-up of the session here.
In our last session ‘Green and just recovery in cities’, a clear need emerged for a recovery that is both green and just, that takes into account the increasing marginalisation of people in the current crisis, that ensures a climate conscious recovery, a social recovery, a just recovery. Read a full write-up of the session here.
And in our AGM, a wonderful conversation between the outgoing and incoming presidents Anna König Jerlmyr, Stockholm, and Dario Nardella, Florence, ended with a ‘live’ bouquet being handed over from Florence to Stockholm – on screen.
For information on the ExCom elections and the outcome of the AGM, see below.
Joe Biden and the EU budget saga
While reading the news I found a quote by newly (or nearly 😉) elected President Joe Biden that goes: “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” It made me think of what a saga the next EU multi-annual financial framework and recovery plan’s adoption process has become. First the Brexit saga, now the money.
So, if we follow Biden and value the EU on its current budget proposal, six weeks away from when it should officially start, it would get a big zero because people need it and we should value people.
We were ready to celebrate a few months ago when member states found an agreement on an unprecedented budgetary package to help the EU not only to deliver on its policies, but also to recover and build back better. We had to cork the champagne temporarily while the European Parliament negotiated for an extra €16 billion for programmes like Horizon Europe and Erasmus that will help cities. Fine with that. Then, this week, more drama: Hungary and Poland are vetoing the process. To quote Joe Biden again, “when you’re appealing to people’s fears and anxieties, you can make some gains” – and that is what these countries seem to be doing in their appeals on the rule of law position towards their populations.
Now, without wanting to enter domestic politics across EU countries, this overall process is starting to annoy me. It annoys me even as someone who understands the mechanics of the EU and as a pro-European. But what about those people that have lost their job, have a business to manage, must deal with gaps in the health system, or who are planning green and digital investments, to create new employment, regenerate private and public spaces and so on? They are all looking to the EU to play its role in supporting them by setting a clear path forward. Meanwhile, they are being let down.
Cities need the EU to get its act together. Our cities have been hardest hit by this crisis, and cities are the place where all sorts of challenges come together. Where are the fundamental values of the EU? Now is the time for a demonstration of solidarity and unity. Otherwise, we will lay ourselves open to more populist rhetoric, which only weakens the EU.
So, what can we do? Let’s “keep the faith” (Biden again 😊). I really hope a decent compromise can be found fast. We do not have the luxury of time to deal with competing national agendas. Cities need action. The Resilience and Recovery Facility text by the European Parliament recognises the role of cities in Europe’s recovery. We can only hope that national recovery plans will offer cities a seat at the table too.
This is a unique chance for Europe to imagine a new future, to rethink what our cities and our continent could look like through a totally different paradigm. Let’s not waste it!
Florence new Eurocities President
Eurocities has a new president, vice-president and a renewed Executive Committee.
Over 100 Eurocities members participated to the 2020 ExCom elections and in the procedure for the approval of the AGM documents, a record participation for the first ever Eurocities online voting!
Members elected, for a three-year mandate, the cities of Braga, Florence, Oslo and Rotterdam Florence and Rotterdam have been ExCom members before). Together with Barcelona, Ghent, Leipzig, Ljubljana, Nantes, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw they form the executive committee. Members also elected Florence as president and Leipzig as vice-president. Warsaw will continue as treasurer and Ghent will take up the role of secretary.
The 2020 AGM marked also the start of the two-years mandate for the new forum chairs: Dresden will chair the Culture Forum, Helsinki Economic Development, Barcelona Knowledge Society, Toulouse Mobility and Utrecht Social Affairs.
A big thank you to Stockholm who lead the network in the past two years, to the outgoing ExCom members and forum chairs for their commitment to the network, great work and accomplishments. A virtual round of applause also to all the new ExCom members and forum chairs! Read more here.
Outgoing and incoming forum chairs on the past and future for cities
Being chair of one of our forums means being at the helm of cities’ action for change in Europe. At our annual conference, we heard from the outgoing forum chairs on all that they have achieved over their terms, and from the incoming forum chairs on how they want to steer the network in the future.
A goodbye from our outgoing forum chairs
What the future holds – our incoming forum chairs
Fast Forward: A sneak peek inside the our network
Historical agreement on €1.8 trillion
On 10 November the European Parliament and EU Member States in the Council reached an agreement on Europe’s next long-term budget and NextGenerationEU, the temporary recovery instrument. Once adopted, the package of a total of €1.8 trillion will be the largest package ever financed through the EU budget. The new agreement brings top-ups of €16 billion to many flagship programmes especially relevant for cities and for which we strongly advocated for. This includes significant increases for Horizon Europe (€4 billion), Health (€3.4 billion), Erasmus (€2.2 billion) and culture (€0.6 billion).
Cities in EU Budget – Recovery and Resilience
On 9 November the European Parliament committees agreed on the budget and on economic affairs agreed on the Parliament report on the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) which will be at the basis of the Parliament position for the upcoming trialogue discussions on the EU budget. As part of the next EU budget, the Recovery and Resilience Facility will provide almost €700 billion in grants and loans to member states, and it is therefore crucial to kickstart the recovery in cities.
— Eurocities (@EUROCITIES) October 29, 2020
To ensure that cities are properly represented in the final regulation, Eurocities undertook advocacy activities towards the European Parliament, which culminated in a coordinated and network-wide advocacy action towards MEPs ahead of the 9 November vote.
Only with a united voice can we push for this main EU tool to kickstart the recovery to be shaped closer to cities and citizens to better respond to the current and future challenges.
The final result of this action was favourable to cities, and the active involvement of many members and the positive reactions of various MEPs was key to get as broad support as possible in the ECON and BUDG committees to secure our amendments into the text of the report.
As the stakes are very high, we are continuing to work on the Recovery and Resilience Facility with other stakeholders such as the European Commission, and in the coming weeks we will be holding a meeting with Commissioner Gentiloni’s cabinet to discuss how cities can contribute to National Recovery Plans and in particular ensure that the projects currently being drafted take their needs into consideration.
Consultation on National Recovery and Operation
Over the summer Eurocities worked to better target member states, and we have provided cities with information to kickstart a dialogue with national governments on the National Recovery Plans (NRPs).
Now, as the drafting of National Recovery Plans is getting close to its final phase, we would like to know if the actions you put forward to your national government helped you develop a meaningful dialogue on the NRP with relevant projects being discussed.
We are launching a consultation that will help us monitor and assess the level of involvement of your city in the development of National Recovery Plans. With better evidence we will be able to both better lobby the EU institutions but also to help you in your specific cases.
Next to this, we would like to take this opportunity to have some initial feedback on your city involvement in the next Operational Programmes of the European Regional and Investment Funds (ERDF). You can find and respond to the consultation at this link until 24 November.
Cities and the EU together for green mobility
“What is obvious today is that the mobility mix will evolve,” says Jean-Claude Dardelet, Deputy Mayor of Toulouse. With public transportation taking the brunt of the covid crisis and active and shared mobility being at the centre of a new revolution, there are significant behavioral and structural changes that will impact the oganisation of urban mobility for years to come. How can cities and the European Union collaborate to make long-lasting changes for a more sustainable living?
To reply to this question, this year’s Mobility Forum saw Filip-Alexandru Negreanu-Arboreanu, deputy-head of Commissioner Vălean’s Cabinet discuss the upcoming Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy. The strategy, expected to be published in December 2020, aims to align the EU transport sector with the goals of the European Green Deal and determine the response for mobility in the COVID-19 crisis.
On the front line of this crisis, cities have proven once more that they are swift to react, repurposing public space, creating temporary bike lanes, encouraging alternative modes and fighting for the public transport system.
Public transport has been hit hard, and cities are worried it will not survive. They call for more immediate funding and an international campaign to restore trust in public transport, while long term changes will be needed to make the system more resilient to similar crises in the future.
At the opposite end, connectivity and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) were boosted by the crisis. Cities highlighted the need to simplify the user’s experience through cross-border collaboration, centralised platforms and shared standards and digital languages.
“One way the EU could help is to make sure the development of MaaS systems is standardised,” said Robert van Asten, Deputy Mayor of The Hague. “The EU should support and stimulate interconnectivity, in both a physical and digital way.”
“One of the things that we lack more is a language between cities and mobility operators to organise the system,” noted Miguel Gaspar, Deputy Mayor of Lisbon. “There’s not a standard, or common language.”
To make these changes a reality an important intervention in the infrastructure will be needed, and cities call for more direct funding to invest in infrastructure.
“I would agree to the need to increase cooperation with the cities,” concluded Deputy-head Negreanu-Arboreanu. “I agree that funding needs to be streamlined towards multi-modality, towards inter-operable rail across countries and I agree that more connectivity in a digital and physical way must be provided so I take all this on board and hopefully you’ll see it reflected in the strategy.”
Read more here
Users demand better charging point access and information
Users need a higher performance charging points’ network that is dense enough to ensure availability once it has been booked remotely, USER-CHI’s first survey on user needs has revealed.
While the market for electric vehicles (EVs) is now fully developed and the users satisfied with them, the analysis conducted by USER-CHI partner IBV shows users still have concerns about key areas of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
The availability of charging points is not solved, where users need increased access to charging points at drivers’ homes, as well as in public and communal parking lots, and easy booking procedures.
The data also revealed that many users wish to see a harmonised standardisation of charging equipment and signalling, widespread fast charging on highways, and increased information on the charging process as well as automatic user detection at the charging point.
The survey was carried out in six key European markets, including Norway, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Spain, with 2,737 people providing their opinion. Discover more about this project here.
Want to discover more about #USERCHI and the #emobility #transition? Check the last issue of @EuroEnergyInn 👉 #OurFutureIsCharging 🔗https://t.co/3QWZikkNH0#charging #electrification #ElectricVehicles #Sustainability #EUSEW2020 @romamobilita pic.twitter.com/VeMedmoItp
— USER-CHI (@Userchi_H2020) June 11, 2020
Inspiring stories on cultural heritage
Do you want to know how to revive dilapidated buildings and make them centres of creativity or hubs for small businesses? How about helping communities unite through public monuments, or recasting local histories through new inclusive setups? Then check out our new catalogue from Cultural Heritage in Action here.
Following an open call, we have gathered 32 examples of innovative practices focusing on participatory governance, re-use of heritage buildings and quality of interventions on cultural heritage.
Cultural heritage, whether tangible or intangible, ranks high in the strategic priorities of European cities and regions. From large to small-scale projects, from structures to events, investments in cultural heritage are powerful for urban regeneration, for territorial cohesion and for social inclusion.
Stories from the catalogue highlight new working methods developed by local and regional authorities with stakeholders. You will also find out that adaptive re-use of heritage buildings is not only for cultural uses and that built heritage areas are increasingly brought back to citizens through new open public spaces.
The catalogue was prepared in the framework of Cultural Heritage in Action, the EU peer-learning programme on cultural heritage for cities and regions.
Cultural Heritage in Action is managed by a consortium led by Eurocities with KEA, ERRIN, Europa Nostra and Architects’ Council of Europe from January 2020 to June 2021.
Enjoy reading our catalogue and be inspired by all local and regional success stories!
Chemnitz named Capital of Culture
A European jury has selected Chemnitz to be European Capital of Culture 2025. Chemnitz will share the honour with a Slovenian city, to be announced in December.
With the motto ‘C the unseen’, Chemnitz2025 directs its gaze to the unseen: the unseen of the quiet centre. The unseen city, the unseen European neighbours, the unseen places and biographies, the unseen talents in each individual. The programme also includes many other unseen cities or regions in Europe, which make a strong statement for democratic coexistence and especially the people who help to create a cosmopolitan community across national borders.
Chemnitz has a strong record of sharing effective ideas with and learning from other city administrations throughout the Eurocities network to develop and support local cultural networks. Read more here. Chemnitz has also benefited from coaching through the EU funded Culture for Cities and Regions project led by Eurocities. Read more here.
The music sector is one of the worst affected by the current pandemic. Based on small and medium businesses, music is the third largest employer within the cultural and creative industries in the EU. However, being the first to close and very likely the last to fully reopen, loss estimates are rampant. In the UK alone, 50% of live music employees will be let go before the end of the calendar year.
Eurocities, together with Music Cities Events, held a city-dialogue on music and cities on 22 October. Bologna and Mannheim presented actions to support the local music sector:
- Bologna launched pilot projects to foster research in cultural business models and offered its large municipal theatre for concerts that could not have taken place in small venues, due to sanitary restrictions. The city provides grants to support innovation in the music sector and is actively advocating for local music production.
- Mannheim streamed consultation sessions with the local creative sector and launched two municipal programmes to support the night time economy, retail and cultural institutions, including 0% interest rate credits. The fact that the music sector is very well organised and networked in Mannheim (including through the unique ‘Mannheim Model’, connecting the music business with start-ups and the art scene) made it much easier for the city to develop tailor-made support schemes.
In moments of crisis, #AtLeastWeHaveMusic!
A new European Bauhaus aesthetic
In September, the Commission’s president von der Leyen announced the launch the New European Bauhaus to nurture a new European sustainable and efficient aesthetic. To fully realize the Green New Deal the European Bauhaus aims to be an intersectional project that transforms environmental, economic and cultural goals for Europe.
This initiative is part of the EU’s Renovation Wave strategy, aiming to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. The Bauhaus initiative will support the set-up of five demonstration projects in member states, all focused on sustainability, art and culture starting in 2021. Projects will be experimentation labs and accelerators of innovation, harvesting contributions from citizens, architects, scientists, engineers, and more. 2023 should mark the start of a second Bauhaus wave, deepening the scope inside and outside of Europe. Read more here.
Attracting international talent in cities
Cities are looking into new ways to attract international talent and provide incentives for migrants to settle and work in their territories. By creating a strategic, cross-sectoral, holistic management model for internationalisation, cities focus on bringing their local ecosystem to life. Tampere sees international talent as a key factor in promoting business and innovation. At the same time, the skills, competences and needs of people with a migrant background take centre stage when matching them for a good employment position.
This complex topic was the focus of discussion during a meeting of Working Group Migration & Integration on 7-8 October. Originally planned to take place in Tampere, the meeting moved online and was successfully hosted by Tampere as a digital mutual learning visit. In addition, these local level experiences were linked in an advocacy session to the upcoming EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion which is expected for the end of the year. Read more about Tampere’s approach here.
What does it take to build healthy, thriving and inclusive cities?
It takes reskilling those sectors in transition; understanding our natural capital resource on a city level; youth programmes for healthy diets and food education; mapping our green blue and quiet spaces and developing co-ownership contracts; citizen engagement through co-design and place making; and renovation projects to give old buildings a new, sustainable life.
These are just some of the things it takes to build a healthy, thriving and inclusive city according to our members.
Three days, four workshops, and countless ideas for taking action today to build the cities of tomorrow: Our cross-cutting ‘Healthy Thriving Inclusive Cities series’ has come to an end for this year, but your ideas and actions will be taken forward for review and possible enactment next year.
Missed a workshop? Check out the full write-up of each on our website:
Eurocities at European Week of Regions and Cities
Eurocities had a great showing at the European Week of Regions and Cities in October, participating in lots of great sessions to learn about and highlight the latest development in urban policies. We would like to highlight two sessions in particular.
The Launch of the Green City Accord
The Green City Accord was launched by the European Commission on October 22. During the event, mayors and other local political leaders of Florence, Lille, Freiburg, Seville and Porto welcomed the Green City Accord, underscored their strong support for the initiative, and presented inspiring environmental actions from their cities. Check out our article to discover the highlights of the event, or watch the recording here.
From now on, the accord is open for mayors to sign. To join the initiative, mayors should first present the Green City Accord to the city council (or equivalent decision-making body) for an official decision. Once the city council decision is obtained, the mayor can sign the commitment document electronically through this form. More information can be found on the Green City Accord website.
Do not miss this opportunity to sign the accord and join a community of cities driving the transition towards a clean and healthy Europe!
Governance models for climate neutrality
During this Covenant of Mayors session, several cities shared their successful practices in implementing participatory models of governance involving different sectors of society to combat climate change. Amongst the speakers were Rafal Trzaskowski (Mayor of Warsaw and Committe of the Regions rapporteur on the EU Climate Pact), Minna Arve (Mayor of Turku), Mohamed Ridouani (Mayor of Leuven), and Charles Fournier (vice-president of the Centre Val de Loire-Region).
Renovation Wave Strategy
The Renovation Wave strategy establishes three priority areas:
- decarbonisation of heating and cooling
- tackling energy poverty and worst performing buildings
- renovation of public buildings (schools, hospitals, administrative buildings)
The strategy emphasises the exemplary role of cities and publicly owned buildings, and is a positive step. The main points are:
- increasing the volume and impact of EU funding by providing more grants, technical assistance, project development support and loans and making it possible to combine them, which was not possible in the past, and make access to private financing more attractive
- scale up technical assistance to prepare and implement projects and make it closer to regional and local actors
- using renovation as a lever to address energy poverty and access to healthy housing. The Commission will also launch an Affordable Housing Initiative for 100 lighthouse projects
- reducing whole life-cycle carbon emissions in buildings and foster circularity of materials
- placing an integrated, participatory and neighbourhood-based approach at the heart of the renovation wave, supporting district level projects, and considering buildings as part of a system
We have also joined the #BuildingLife Campaign promoted by the World Building Council calling on the European Commission and national governments to adopts ambitious policies to tackle the total carbon and resource impact of buildings.
Read our policy paper here.
Reducing packaging waste
Part of the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission announced the modernisation of some pieces of the waste legislation. The first one to come is the legislation on packaging and packaging waste. Today packaging design does not sufficiently consider the difficulties of treating and separating packaging waste. This increases sorting costs for city authorities. The new legislation needs to include requirements at the product design phase to make packaging ready for reuse and recycling.
Eurocities calls for all types of packaging placed on the EU market to be reusable or recyclable by 2030. In addition, recycled content targets are needed for packaging. This will boost demand for secondary materials from recycled packaging and reduce the environmental impact of the production of new packaging with virgin materials. Cities also encourage the Commission to extend the scope of Extended Producer Responsibility as an essential aspect of efficient waste management.
8th Environment Action Programme to 2030
The eighth Environment Action Programme to 2030 (EAP) was published in October 2020 and would guide European environmental policy until 2030. It has six objectives, very much in line with the Communication on the European Green Deal:
- reducing GHG emissions and enhancing removals by natural and other sinks, aiming at achieving the 2030 and 2050 objectives;
- enhancing adaptive capacity and resilience;
- accelerating the transition to circular economy;
- pursuing a zero-pollution ambition;
- protecting, preserving and restoring biodiversity;
- promoting environmental sustainability.
Among the enabling conditions, we can mention efficient implementation of existing legislation, mainstreaming the six objectives across relevant strategies and initiatives, taking advantage of synergies and trade-offs, mobilising sustainable investments from public and private sources, phasing out environmentally harmful subsidiess, applying the ‘do no harm principle’, making full use of nature-based solutions, harnessing the potential of digital and encouraging collaboration and wide societal engagement.
🆕 EU Environment Action Programme 🌍
Europe faces unprecedented challenges:
biodiversity loss 🐝
climate change 🟠
resource use 💧
— EU Environment (@EU_ENV) October 14, 2020
On the latter, the EAP mentions that “reaching the objectives will require […] cooperation in the development and implementation of strategies, policies or legislation amongst national, regional and local authorities, in urban and rural areas.”
The eighth EAP includes a new monitoring mechanism to ensure that the EU remains on track to meet its environmental objectives and a set of indicators to improve the monitoring of biodiversity, circular economy and zero pollution action plan.
The Commission has open an eight-week online consultation on the Action Programme, you are invited to respond before 31 December 2020.
Type approval of motor vehicles – we need more ambition
To continue our lobbying on the Real Driving Emissions file, which entered into trilogue negotiations in October, the chair of the Environment Forum and mayors and deputy mayors from Brussels, Paris and Madrid, have signed a letter asking the member states’ representatives in the Council, and the rapporteur and shadows in the European Parliament, to confirm the European Parliament position that the conformity factor should cease to apply by 30 September 2022.
The substantial increase allowed by the conformity factors is not based on the best available technology and, as a study on post-Euro 6/VI emission standards by the CLOVE consortium has found, most of the latest vehicle models in real driving emissions tests already score below the legal threshold of NOx emissions.
You can find the letter on the Eurocities website.
Robust Innovation Ecosystem for the Future of Europe
The report ‘A Robust Innovation Ecosystem for the Future of Europe’ published by the European Commission is a result of a series of online and offline consultations, collecting the insights, suggestions, and key takeaways from the European innovation ecosystem stakeholders, including a number of recommendations proposed by Eurocities secretariat and the WG Innovation (Economic Development Forum).
The main local challenges highlighted by Eurocities, covered the following areas:
- crucial role of innovation in the procurement process;
- need to work on innovative solutions that are sustainable for cities and their citizens;
- need to support the innovation know-how capacity-building of local authorities;
- need for better data and time to prepare innovation projects that require full cycle deployments;
- need to collect data for districts to further advance cities’ innovative projects.
Overall, the outcomes of the comprehensive consultation process emphasized the need to work together, among start-ups, entrepreneurs, academic bodies and educational institutions, regions and cities, innovation agencies and national authorities, to expand collaboration. This can only happen through increased data analysis and qualitative information sharing, which should pave the way for Europe to become a global leader in many disruptive fields. It is then imperative to provide better citizen engagement, increase openness to investment risk and ease the regulatory burden.
The report also illustrated the state of play of innovation ecosystems, landscape challenges and recommendations related to issues of connectedness, competence and talent, and access to and deployment of capital. Cutting across all three issues are the inclusion and diversity challenges inherent to a rich and multicultural region like Europe.
Meeting Commission on common data spaces
In October, the European Council officially welcomed the EU strategy for Data which was published in February this year. The strategy mentions the development of nine common European data spaces, facilitating the better use of publicly held data, data sharing by individuals, and key organisations.
The European Commission is currently working to contribute to a Green Deal data space by supporting the federation of local data ecosystems for climate-neutral and smart communities, in which cities can play a key role. A Knowledge Society Forum collaboration bringing together 16 cities met on 29 October for a two-hour workshop to identify possible use cases for such local data ecosystems (or: common data spaces) contributing to sustainability goals. Additionally, cities’ needs and challenges for realising common data spaces were discussed, identifying several topics critical for implementing, managing, and scaling-up data spaces in the future.
For instance, it was mentioned that access to and use of data should add to the overall quality of citizens’ lives. It was mentioned by several cities that trust lays the basis of any successful introduction of data spaces, in which new concepts for value management and incentivisation for participation for a variety of stakeholders and actors should be addressed. Moreover, transparency on what data is used where, and tangible examples of how the use of combined data leads to added value for citizens, are important factors for success. Several cities mentioned the relevance of challenges related to access to local and privately owned data and the lack of applicable (cross-border) standards and data ontologies to facilitate interoperability at a data level. Last but not least, a common approach for a smart communities’ data space would be encouraged if it would take into account the reality of cities’ different levels of (technological/data) maturity and available resources.
In the last week of November, the group will continue its discussion on smart communities’ data space to address in more detail the challenges that were identified in the first session. These insights will be shared in the workshop ‘Data-driven cities: fostering common data spaces for urban sustainability’ with DG CONNECT on 8 December.
Revision of Intelligent Transport Systems Directive
A decade after its creation, the European Commission will revise the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Directive. The ITS Directive aims to accelerate the deployment of intelligent transport systems for road transport to improve safety, traffic efficiency and mobility management. An evaluation of the ITS Directive over the last ten years found that there is a need for further action to strengthen interoperability, cooperation, and data sharing for transport services to be effective. This is seen by the European Commission as an essential building block to accelerate multimodality and related transport services, such as Mobility as a Service. Further information on the ITS Directive can be found in the link below.
Eurocities will be advocating for the interests of city authorities on the file in the coming months, via the Smart and Connected Mobility Working Group. Should you be interested in contributing to the directive of ITS in the EU, please contact email@example.com
Read more about the directive here.
SAF policy updates and more
Find out what’s new in our Social Affairs Forum and what kept us busy over the last months. Read our SAF policy update for September – October 2020 where you can find:
- an overview of our SAF and WG events in autumn – winter 2020
- latest negotiations on Multiannual Financial Framework and the Next Generation EU recovery fund
- the Commission’s work plan for 2021 and what’s new on the EU social agenda
- thematic policy updates on migration and integration, skills and employment, education, housing and homelessness, Roma inclusion, poverty reduction and social services, child policy and the upcoming EU Child Guarantee, accessibility and disability inclusion, urban ageing, and social economy
- EU funding updates including the open calls under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (deadline: 16 Feb 2021)
Do you want to know more about our advocacy actions on different policy files in SAF? Check our overview of SAF advocacy actions in 2020 to find out how we work with the European Commission and the European Parliament to advance a stronger role for cities in the EU social agenda.
Have your say on the EU public consultation on social Europe
We encourage all members to submit your views and proposals or recommendations on how to strengthen the EU social agenda to better respond to the social challenges we face in our cities. You can respond to the European Commission’s public consultation on the future of social Europe until 30 November 2020 at this link: ec.europa.eu/social/yoursay-socialeurope
Your city’s contribution can be:
- Upload your city pledge – we encourage all our members that already signed pledges to the European Pillar of Social Rights to upload their city pledge on the Commission website (simple upload button).
- submit your city input for new initiatives at EU, national, regional or local level – you can select from our Eurocities statement on social Europe the recommendations most relevant for your city and exemplify them with arguments from your city.
This is a massive EU public consultation that will directly feed into the European Commission’s proposal for the action plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, which is expected to be announced in February 2021 and adopted at the EU Social Summit in Porto in May 2021.
We need your help to make our voice from cities heard in this massive consultation. Just with our Eurocities statement, we can have one input, but if all cities in SAF have an input, we can have our messages multiplied and make a stronger echo!
Cities key in new EU Roma framework
The European Commission launched its proposal in October for a new EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation 2020-2030. Eurocities welcomes the progress in the recognition of the role of cities in favour of Roma inclusion. A dedicated chapter of the draft Council recommendation calls for the involvement of cities in the design and implementation of national strategic frameworks as well as EU funds relevant for Roma. EU and national funds should be better channeled to cities in order to fund updated local action plans for Roma equality, inclusion and participation.
In line with our recommendations, the framework now includes horizontal areas – equality, inclusion and participation – to complement the sectorial approaches. The diversity among Roma people is also better reflected, notably through the inclusion of EU mobile citizens. A portfolio of indicators, a set of objectives and targets are defined to improve the monitoring of the new framework. Find our policy brief here.
Anti-gypsyism in Roma inclusion strategies
When Berlin organised an independent evaluation of its action plan for the inclusion of migrant Roma, it both highlighted the success of many approaches and the need to address discrimination against Roma. During the online policy transfer of the WG Roma inclusion, cities learned from Berlin on their current approach and how they are shifting to a combination of mainstreamed and targeted measures ensuring adequate support without discrimination.
Discussions with project managers like Nostels, which provides accommodation and support for families without income, fed into an analysis of the key success factors in Berlin’s work. Cities then co-created possible measures to address anti-gypsyism and reinforce the trust of Roma people in the authorities. This question, at the heart of the new EU Roma framework, was further discussed during a high-level debate.
In her keynote speech, Commissioner Dalli pointed out that only at city level can we really adapt to local needs and give meaning to EU policies. Deputy mayors from Barcelona, Berlin and Malmo then exchanged with the European Roma Grassroots Organisation network on the key elements to make Roma inclusion a reality at local level. Find out more here
Talking climate action: Sustainable Innovation Forum
COP26 has been delayed. Environmental diplomacy put on hold. But we cannot postpone the climate emergency. Momentum on climate action must be maintained. – Against this background, the 11th Sustainable Innovation Forum returns this November with a five-day programme and Eurocities as a partner.
2020 was meant to usher in a decade of action in our fight against the climate crisis. Governments and businesses were poised to raise their ambition but instead have been fighting a difference crisis – the pandemic.
In response to the delay of COP, the 11th edition of the Sustainable Innovation Forum, taking place over five days from the 16 – 20 November 2020, will be fully virtualized and broadcast live from a London-based studio.
Eurocities is pleased to partner with the Forum and to announce that HRH Prince of Wales will be joining Day 5 to give an important call to action. Join us by registering now to watch live or receive the content on demand.
Smart city live 2020 – KSF session
The Smart City Live 2020 by Expo World Congress will be held online this time, and it will be full of digital sessions and workshops. One of the most unique sessions of this event is the ‘’societal role of the CIO: linking EU policies to smart city initiatives’’ from the KSF.
Some of the current crucial topics and priorities of the EU Digital agenda are the digital transformation, trust in Artificial Intelligence, and governance of European data spaces. These digital policies can create new opportunities for the cities and contribute to the improvement of services for citizens. But how can the cities CIOs address these initiatives through IT projects? What is the role of the CIOs from an EU policy perspective and what does the European Commission propose?
If you want to know the answers to these and learn more about European digital policies in cities in general, you should not miss this short discussion! Join the KSF session on 18 November at 9.00-9.45! Visit the expo website here.
City dialogue on covid recovery
As a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is moving towards new peaks in Europe, cities are developing and adapting their recovery strategies at full speed.
In response to the huge economic, social, and health impact of coronavirus, the Mayor of London has been working with stakeholders across the city to develop a London recovery programme. The objectives are to restore confidence in the city, minimise the impact on London’s most vulnerable communities, and rebuild the city’s economy and society.
Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella, the Central District, has been the economic epicentre of city life since the origins of the city, to reactivate the Central District’s social dynamism and its economy, Barcelona proposes a strategy to diversify the economy, generating structural transformations in the open space and public facilities with projects to show the symbols of the new digital and green economy in the very centre of Barcelona.
Learn more about the recovery programmes in London and Barcelona at our next City Dialogue on 20 November from 10:00 to 11:30 CET, where we will also hear about the work the OECD is doing to support cities towards recovery.
Register here to join us for the discussions.
What’s next for urban governance in Europe?
Eurocities and the city of Leipzig are pleased to invite you for an online session on ‘The New Leipzig Charter: A new deal for good urban and multilevel governance’.
In the past months Eurocities followed and contributed to the development of this important strategic document, bringing forward your inputs both in the Urban Governance Group and Director General for Urban Matters meetings. As national ministers prepare to adopt the new Leipzig Charter at their informal ministerial meeting on 30 November, we will look at how the developments can continue to make a positive difference for the role of cities in the EU.
How can cities make the most of this important document? How can it contribute in practical terms towards a stronger multilevel collaboration and good urban governance in Europe? Check the agenda and join us next 24 November from 11.00 onwards to find out.
Speakers include representatives from EU presidencies and city leaders involved in the preparation and implementation of this new deal for Urban Governance.
Recovery and resilience in the EU – A chance for re-municipalisation?
On Thursday 25 November, Eurocities together with the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises (CEEP), will host a virtual joint city dialogue to discuss the provision of public services and Services of General Interests (SGIs), playing a major role in the recovery process European cities are going through to get past the COVID-19 crisis.
The picture that emerges from data shows that SGIs employ over 60 million workers in a broad range of sectors, contributing approximately to 26% of the EU’s GDP and also represent a large percentage of the activities that have remained operational right the way through the COVID-19 outbreak. The crisis presented the urgency of having operational SGIs, and their value in building long-term economic and social resilience.
In recent years, a trend of remunicipalisation in the provision of SGIs has been witnessed in several member states, as illustrated in the case-study report ‘Future is Public’ published by the Transnational Institute (TNI). Often occurring with expiring concession contracts, supporters of remunicipalisation argue that, over the past decade, the conversion process helped to drastically improve service quality and focus more directly on social and green targets.
The joint city dialogue will be a unique opportunity to focus on public services in times of Covid-19, with stakeholders from affected sectors such as energy, health, mobility and public housing.
Barrier-free City for All and Safe and Active Travel
Just before the end of the month, the two working groups Barrier-free City for All (BCA) and Safe and Active Travel (SAT) will meet respectively on 26 and 27 November.
On 26 November, 10:00-12:00 CET, join the BCA WG meeting where we will present the 10 Years Report of the Working Group, developed by Berlin, chair of the WG, with contributions from 13 cities members of the WG. You will have the chance to discuss with fellow cities what are the main challenges that emerged from the COVID-19 crisis with regard to people with disabilities and to hear the latest developments on the European Disability Strategy directly from the European Commission. Register here.
On 27 November, 10:30-12:30 CET, join the SAT WG meeting to hear from Rome, London, Dublin, Malmo and Bilbao. We will address the following topics: Space re-allocation in Rome and London, co-creation processes and stakeholder involvement for better planning in Malmo and Dublin, and the experience from Bilbao in establishing a 30 km/h speed limit in the whole city. Register here.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Integrating Cities Conference IX
Our very first online Integrating Cities Conference takes place at a time when integration is moving up on the policy agenda of the EU. As such, the European Commission’s Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion, which will be released by the end of 2020, will set the policy context in which a closer involvement of cities in designing integration policies is indispensable.
This year’s conference, Invest in local solidarity – cities and volunteers building an inclusive society, is organised in the framework of the VALUES project – Volunteering Activities to Leverage Urban and European Social integration of migrants, and co-hosted by the city of Nuremberg, partner of VALUES. It will focus on building cohesion and inclusive society at the local level, by involving and engaging communities and citizens.
The high-level event, on 2 and 3 December, will be preceded the week before by online workshops that will cover various subjects related to integration:
Wednesday 25 November: Protecting the rights of migrant children and youth – 10:00 – 11:30 CET
Thursday 26 November: How to work on human rights and anti-racism at local level – 10:00 – 12:00 CET
Friday 27 November: Volunteering for integration: a tool for social innovation? – 10:00 – 11:30 CET
Monday 30 November : Labour market integration of migrants – 10:00 – 11:30 CET
2-3 December programme:
The conference will also be the occasion for new cities to sign Eurocities’ Integrating Cities charter. The charter harnesses the duties and responsibilities of European cities in their roles as policy-makers, service providers, employers and buyers of goods and services to provide equal opportunities for all residents, to integrate migrants, and to embrace the diversity of populations that is a reality in cities across Europe. Joining the Integrating Cities initiative will provide visibility to integration policies, good practices and projects of your city. Interested to sign? Contact us for more information!
CIVITAS interactive e-publication
Learning from your city peers as if you were visiting them, how should that work in times of pandemic? That has been this year’s challenge, and to meet it we asked seven cities to film their best mobility solutions and share their insights through short and crispy case studies. On 8 December at 10:30, come join us online for the launch event where you will be able to discuss with seven cities who dared to:
- bring public space back to people. Exchange with colleagues from Bratislava on how to transform a transit zone into squares.
- be vibrant, with walking and cycling. Hear more on Madrid’s strategy to ensure safe and active mobility for younger and elderly people.
- test agile mobility solutions in practice. Let’s chat with Helsinki about their cargo rental system as well as their new electric ferryboat as an on demand service.
- create more space for people. See how the city of Aachen is testing new protected bikes lanes separated from regular traffic by security elements.
- push for innovative and sustainable mobility. Let us travel to Greece and more precisely to Rethymno and discover their smart on-street parking system.
- transform streets into cycling lanes and pedestrian zones. Learn more about Sarajevo’s experience in closing-up areas to cars to free the space for green mobility solutions.
- open-up space for people. Speak with colleagues from Szeged about bringing back public space to people, by changing parking spaces form the docks into a free cultural and leisure area.
EDF meeting 2021
Save the date! The Economic Development Forum annual meeting will be held on 17-19 March 2021 in a new hybrid version. The EDF, together with the hosting city Oulu, will plunge into the
City case study
Munich – conflict management office
Public spaces exist to enable different uses by different groups, often with conflicting interests. Munich noticed that as the city became more densely developed, tolerance of these differences was reducing and points of friction increasing. This was particularly the case between music-loving partygoers in local parks and residents wanting peace, cleanliness and security. The city saw that its traditional approach to conflict management involving meetings and fixed processes was not suited to this and other everyday disagreements. For while such frustrations can severely affect how people feel, the reality is that each party will have legitimate needs, rights and expectations.
When a meeting of municipal departments discussed changes in the volume and type of complaints, it reluctantly concluded nothing more could be done as no laws applied. The head of civic engagement and conflict management in the social services department, however, decided to think more about what the city could offer. She developed an idea for a more flexible, impartial and visible kind of service inspired by Vienna’s SAM (social, safe, active and mobile) project. At its heart is a commitment to the interests of all parties: everyone’s views are seen as equal and no-one should be driven away. The idea is that by establishing a team that travels to discuss and defuse conflicts on the ground, mutual understanding, tolerance and consideration can be fostered among citizens.
Dealing with diverse complaints
The city council embraced the concept and set up AKIM – the first office of its kind in Germany – within the social services department. AKIM has the support of district committees, the police and the department of public order and an annual budget of €20,000 for volunteer staff payments and other costs. Separate city funding was found for AKIM’s coordinator and five part-time conflict managers, whose impartial and empathetic approach is supported by mediation training. The team works closely with other departments, with discussions about specific cases steered by AKIM-developed guidelines which identify different options for action.
The inquiries and complaints received by AKIM relate to irritations between residents, conflicts in parks and streets, partying, socially disadvantaged people lingering in public spaces and refugee shelters. AKIM first assesses the urgency and dimension of a conflict through site visits and face-to-face conversations with those involved, often also gaining an independent picture through, for instance, night-time observations. A choice is then made from a spectrum of interventions including awareness raising, conflict moderation, conflict management coordination and presence on the ground – where teams of two, recognisable in their red jackets, encourage calm and dialogue.
Innovating for wider impact
People involved with a conflict will often take the opportunity offered by AKIM to actively consider the perspectives of others and the role they can play in public spaces as responsible citizens. In situations where there’s little willingness to work well together, or greater complexity, AKIM may refer the issue on to the police, social workers or other organisations. Where there’s a wider fundamental problem to be tackled, such as young people’s need for space to hang out, AKIM is in a unique position to bring together additional actors and departments with a stake in finding solutions.
From the outset, AKIM has embraced continuous innovation, finding new ways to resolve conflicts peacefully and spread the word about its methods through marketing materials and workshops. When residents raised concerns about new refugee shelters on their doorstep, for example, AKIM went directly to them to discuss their fears. It also organised roundtables for refugees, to explore what they find strange about German life and how they can coexist peacefully with their neighbours. AKIM has broadened its activities to reach a wider audience too, developing workshops on dialogue-based conflict resolution for professionals in different industries.
AKIM is playing a transformative role in the city, encouraging and enabling a new urban competence in dealing with the irritations of big city living. In addition, the city administration benefits from the resolution of conflicts before they escalate and the continuous feedback of information about issues endangering coexistence. AKIM is also serving as a role model in using dialogue to handle conflicts for other municipalities through an annual conference reaching German, Swiss and Austrian cities. This has already led to an international working group for sharing experiences about conflict transformation in the public sphere.