“We are the Pragma Party”

4 December 2019

Why would the European Commission give cities a seat at the table? Our secretary general, Anna Lisa Boni, speaks to goal 12 of our 100 days campaign.

Anna Lisa Boni interview by Ivo Banek for our 100days campaign.

EUROCITIES calls for “a seat at the table” in Brussels for cities: you want them to have a say in European politics. Why?

Cities are the place where people experience many of the major problems of our time, like air pollution or congestion. People who live and work in cities are subject to particular pressure, their bodies and souls are stressed by their environment. That’s why many of them engage in public protest like the climate strikes.

Those are global problems…

…but the solutions need to be local. Most of European and national policies must be implemented in cities. The fight against climate change and against poverty, the integration of migrants, a just technological transition – we need cities to make it happen.

What do cities bring to the European table?

Expertise and experience from the ground. Cities are sensors for what moves and what concerns people. Cities are also learning to share power – listening to their citizens and co-creating policies together. This generates new types of responsibility and ownership: people are taking their fate into their own hands. They are more informed than ever, and they want to be involved.

Citizen engagement is also high on the European agenda.

I think it is difficult for the EU to involve citizens directly, beyond elections and the public consultations which usually only reach certain groups. People engage rather on a local level, also because city governments often must go beyond political ideologies and just find pragmatic solutions that serve people’s needs.

What is the role of EUROCITIES in all this?

We are Europe’s “Pragma Party”, the platform for cities and their pragmatic political leaders. As secretary general of EUROCITIES I love supporting them because they combine a political vision for their city with this very concrete approach to solving citizens’ problems. So as a network we are well placed to catalyse common concerns, to map trends – and to help cities to learn from each other. We have just revamped EUROCITIES’ goals and objectives to make clear: our work is citizen-centred and impact-driven. In all we do, we want to make a difference and improve the quality of urban life. In short: we strive for a Europe where cities are genuine partners with the EU to create a better future.

To read more about what cities expect (and are offering to help) the Commission to deliver check out 100days.eurocities.eu