What is the New Leipzig Charter?

1 December 2020

The New Leipzig Charter, endorsed by the informal council of EU ministers on urban matters this Monday, focusses on the transformative power of cities for the common good.

In doing so, it calls for cities to have a stronger role in decision making at both national and EU level, to receive adequate financial means to deal with new and essential competencies, and sets a framework for how urban development should take place in Europe across the different layers of governance.

Why ‘new’?

It’s a new chapter for urban development that builds on the earlier Leipzig Charter, from 2007, and the more recent experience of the Urban Agenda for the EU, both of which have inspired urban policy in Europe and beyond.

The main message of the first Leipzig Charter, to promote integrated and sustainable urban development, and thus improve overall living conditions in Europe’s cities (especially in the most deprived urban neighbourhoods), is perhaps more relevant than ever. However, with the effects of climate change more and more evident, the COVID-19 pandemic hitting cities hardest and forcing a need for a faster digital transformation, and new global agendas, its adoption couldn’t be more timely.

These challenges create new concerns for cities: digital technologies, for example, can heighten the digital divide, further exacerbating inequalities. Meanwhile, a new budget and recovery package is being agreed at EU level to boost a green and fair recovery, and speed up the digital transformation.

It is in this context that the New Leipzig Charter helps to refocus on the linkages between urban governments and other levels of governance. It also provides an urban policy framework to deliver global and European agreements such as the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, the Urban Agenda and the European Green Deal.

Building on the Urban Agenda

The New Leipzig Charter highlights that good urban governance is necessary to help all cities develop just, green and productive urban systems. In this context, the ministers for urban matters agreed to continue and reinforce the Urban Agenda for the EU, recognising that its method can help cities and functional areas implement the strategic priorities of the New Leipzig Charter.

Speaking at the informal ministerial meeting, Dario Nardella, Eurocities President and Mayor of Florence, said that making this a reality will rest on the ability of cities to have a say in decision making and that EU funding and investments rapidly reach cities – for a just and green recovery.

The Portuguese and Slovenian EU presidencies will work on the implementation of the New Leipzig Charter and draw up a framework for the future of urban agenda.

Read the full Charter here

Listen to the podcast “Cities for the common good” with Anna Lisa Boni from Eurocities and other urban experts discussing the New Leipzig Charter and the way forward