Mayors of major European cities from Paris to Budapest shared that they have not been involved in their government’s national recovery plans at a meeting of the EU capital cities, attended by European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira.
Indeed, as Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence, attending in his capacity as President of Eurocities, pointed out, “in Eurocities, we asked cities back in December if they were involved in the developments of the national recovery plans. 70% of the cities responded they were not.”
For her part, Commissioner Ferreira noted that cities are at the epicentre of the crisis and recovery in which Participation and partnerships necessary.
“There is little time left,” said Nardella, “but it is still possible to make our mark on the plans.”
Eurocities has been calling on national governments to step up efforts to involve mayors and local authorities in their recovery plans.
Cities key for sustainable development and green transition
Local governments care about the big picture too, as Nardella pointed out. City governments, are not just seeking involvement for the money: they want to contribute to the dialogue on the future of EU and Recovery.
In sharing some thoughts with his fellow Mayors, Nardella explained how local level actions can create “added value for the EU and contribute to the objectives of the Green Deal.”
He continued: “As mayors, we know how much our cities have in common, especially when dealing with the challenges of the green, digital and just transformation. My proposal is to set up alliances between our cities to develop such pan-European projects.”
Nardella’s intervention aligns with the suggestion of the European Commission flagship proposals to include ideas for pan-European projects in their proposals.
Jan Olbrycht, MEP and President of Urban Intergroup, who was also in attendance, supported the idea put forward by Mayor of Riga Mr Mārtiņš Staķis, and others, that cities should be partners in the national recovery plans, as they do through the Urban Agenda partnerships, which should be further reinforced.
Elements of recovery
Although several recovery actions to deliver on digital and green investments are already underway in many cities, the costs of the pandemic have heavily impacted urban life, and will be felt for a long time to come. More so than simply rebuilding the cultural and tourism sectors, the cities turned to discussion on the psychological and social impacts, noting that the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, to which many cities have made commitments through Eurocities Inclusive Cities for All initiative, was very timely.
To ensure that all levels of government are better prepared for future pandemics, and build resilience, Nardella used the opportunity to propose setting up, “a structured dialogue at EU level with cities and the EU institutions starting this summer, to monitor implementation of the plans.” This would make certain that investments for the green and digital transition are done at the right level of government, and in cooperation between all levels of government.
The meeting was hosted by Jelena Pavičić Vukičević, Acting Mayor of Zagreb, following the sudden death of Mayor Bandic.