The European Parliament and EU Member States have reached an historic agreement on the largest ever EU budget, which includes temporary recovery funds to help Europe mitigate the impacts of the current crisis. While an agreement was clearly reached on the objectives and the funds allocations, disagreement remains on the connecting the funds to the rule of law, something that Hungary and Poland threaten to veto.
Once adopted, the package will total €1.8 trillion. The new agreement brings top-ups of €16 billion to many flagship programmes especially relevant for cities, such as Horizon Europe (€4bn), Health (€3.4bn), Erasmus (€2.2bn) and culture (€0.6 bn).
As part of this package, 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, which have been hardest hit by the crisis. This comes on top of cohesion policy, which remains the major source of funding for cities, with over €370bn made available, which directly impacts investments at the local level.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 response, cities have been on the front lines, working with national governments, to stop the spread of the virus. Many businesses have been temporarily shut down, and whole sectors such as tourism had to stop completely.
More than anything, this crisis has shown how important public investments are, as well as good governance, to build resilience and respond to crises.
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 example of Italy is fruitful – the national government is working with its metropolitan areas and cities, led by the city of Florence, to build a recovery plan which fully considers the important role of cities for a sustainable recovery. This means that investments in mobility, social infrastructure, housing, local entrepreneurship, and other areas, will be seen as key pillars for the national recovery plan.
To better track cities’ levels of involvement in the development of National Recovery Plans, Eurocities is launching a consultation. You can get in touch for details.