Press release

Top city actions to fight poverty and social exclusion

23 October 2019

11 more cities have made financial commitments to fight poverty and social exclusion, as part of EUROCITIES ongoing political initiative ‘Inclusive cities for all: social rights in my city’.

So far 32 city pledges, representing over €5bn in financial investments prove cities commitment to turn the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights into tangible actions to improve people’s lives on the ground.

Five of the 11 new city pledges were made on housing and assistance for the homeless – highlighting an urgent need in our cities. In this spirit, the city of Bologna, for example, has pledged to make 1,000 new public houses accessible to families in a state of social fragility by 2021. Poznan has invested €41.4 million in the construction of over 1,340 units of social housing. Vienna has engaged previously homeless people in training to become ‘peer workers’ for city services and Birmingham plans to spend £9.6m over three years to help rough sleepers.

Ensuring social rights are available for all people means supporting the most vulnerable. Warsaw’s commitment to long term care includes creating a 24/7 support centre that will be made available to a group of approximately 7,000 elderly persons. Utrecht’s aim to provide Healthy Urban Living for Everyone includes ensuring all people have the right to timely access to affordable, preventative and curative healthcare of good quality. Nantes is promoting gender equality and has dedicated around €1m to establish a post-trauma consultation centre for women victims of violence. Zagreb is offering vulnerable people pro bono legal help to exercise their legal rights

Ljubljana is focussing on the inclusion of people with disabilities. This includes €28.2 million on renovation, rehabilitation and adaptation of public nurseries and primary schools. Amsterdam meanwhile is investing more than €16m over five years in vocational education, with the aim of reaching 27,000 young people and 3,000 teachers. Hamburg, which chose to focus on childcare, is building more than 100 additional day care centres in 2019 and 2020 to ensure all children receive their legal right to five hours free day care. The costs of around €1bn will be borne by the city.

The actions, announced by politicians meeting in Warsaw at EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum, coincide with the publication of a new report, which shows that the social situation in cities is evolving faster than national level policy making, with new forms of poverty and exclusion emerging.

The report, the second in a series based on cities’ actions on social rights, focusses on early childhood education and child welfare in cities in Europe. It reveals that hidden forms of poverty (homeless, migrant children etc.) often fall outside governments official statistics on poverty. Targeting these aspects of poverty requires disaggregated (local) data and tools, which in most cases do not exist. Cities try to cover these gaps by providing integrated and preventative services to give all children a good start in life. But more can be done.

Maarten van Ooijen, vice chair, EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum and deputy mayor of Utrecht, said:
“Cities are going above and beyond in their actions on social rights. However, with new forms of poverty and homelessness emerging there is a risk of children, and other vulnerable groups, falling through the cracks of policy making. That’s why much more effort has to be made to understand different local situations and empower cities to respond to current needs.”

Rafał Trzaskowski, mayor of Warsaw, said:
“We need a people-centred future for Europe. Many cities are already doing this, and that’s what we are showing with the city pledges. It is in our cities that the fight against poverty and social exclusion becomes real, and where national and European policies need to be put into place. But this is a two-way process and top level decision makers need to understand how cities work at the local level, combining different services and looking at the lifecycle of individuals, in order to better design policies that work for all.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. EUROCITIES is the political platform for major European cities. We network the local governments of over 140 of Europe’s largest cities and more than 40 partner cities that between them govern some 130 million citizens across 39 countries.
    ‘Inclusive cities for all: social rights in my city’ is a new political initiative launched by
  2. EUROCITIES in February. It encourages cities to make concrete pledges towards localising the European Pillar of Social Rights.
  3. The 11 cities are: Amsterdam, Birmingham, Bologna, Hamburg, Ljubljana, Nantes, Poznan, Utrecht, Vienna, Warsaw and Zagreb
  4. Latest actions can be found here:
  5. The report can be found here: ESPR_Early_childhood_education_and_child_welfare_in_cities_in_Europe
    A dedicated website on the political initiative can be found here:

Media contact:
Alex Godson: +32 495 298 594 //


Alex Godson Eurocities Writer