After shocks come stimulus programmes, investments, a promise of something better, a promise of ‘we care’, a plea to re-elect us, even though we let you down, because really it wasn’t our fault.
National governments are scrambling to find the route to recovery, following a year of unanticipated crisis caused by the pandemic.
The EU’s promise to lend a helping hand to these efforts comes in the form of a guarantee linked to the bumper EU budget. As adopted last week in the European Council, the InvestEU investment programme aims to mobilise public and private investment in the EU through an EU injection of €26.2 billion to boost the economic recovery and the EU’s priorities, such as the green and digital transitions.
“This cash injection, alongside robust support, is really needed in our cities, which have suffered this year through losses to the cultural, tourism and service sectors in particular,” says Aleksandra Olejnik, Policy Advisor for Economic Development at Eurocities. “At the same time, we have countless examples of how cities have gone above and beyond this year to provide new and additional services to help keep people onto their feet.”
Eurocities #TalkWithCities campaign has highlighted the ambitions of cities to build back better, and shares a common call that cities should be included in their government’s national recovery plans.
Zaragoza has submitted plans to produce 400% of its own energy demand through renewables in four years’ time and to drive down CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030. Its ambitions could make it a poster child for the EU’s Green Deal in action, but like many cities, it’s being left out on national recovery plans.
Capitalising on local knowledge
The InvestEU Programme at least is promising to help cities meet many of these demands by supporting sustainable and social infrastructure, and prioritising research, innovation and skills. As Olejnik points out, “it has integrated several recommendations from Eurocities, such as the InvestEU Advisory Hubs, which not only seek to leverage local knowledge, but to transfer that knowledge by providing advisory support to implement and accommodate small-sized projects and build up local capacity and expertise.”
The InvestEU Programme also stipulates that EU member states should cooperate with their local and regional authorities to develop their own national multiannual investment strategies in support of EU reform priorities.