‘Cities can restore faith in European institutions’, says EUROCITIES President

The future of Europe will be made in cities and their creative citizens will be paramount to help bring solutions to societal challenges, said Daniël Termont, Mayor of Ghent and President of EUROCITIES.

“We need to show the public how Europe enables us to improve city life,” he said during the Brussels-based city network’s annual conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia. “It has been my ambition, and it still is my ambition, to counter all Eurosceptics in a positive way; to take the wind out of their sails, and help restore citizens’ faith in the European institutions, in cities, by cities.”

Termont highlighted his own city’s example whereby Ghent has received European Union funding of €4.3 million (as previously reported in Cities Today). It will help set-up a traffic management system that will make the city centre safer and more liveable. And as Termont quipped: “Cities are for people, not for cars.”

The European Union, however, did not escape criticism. On Friday 17 November the European Union’s Social Summit is taking place in Gothenburg, yet cities have not been invited.

“Given that most social policies are within the remit of local authorities, and in line with the principle of subsidiarity, cities need to be recognised as important partners in the debate on the European Pillar of Social Rights and the future of a social Europe,” said Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General of the 140-city member network. “It would have been enriching to have us around the table in Gothenburg. Nonetheless, we trust European leaders with our messages.”

Speaking on behalf of the European Union on the conference’s theme for this year–the circular economy–, Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, said that the Commission will be making more funds available to help cities move to a circular economy. A new green city tool has been released to make it easier to monitor cities’ environmental performance and to compare this to other cities.

Urban Innovative Actions [the EU initiative that funds innovative projects] are supporting fresh ideas to solve common problems,” he said via video. “Sharing will be vital to move forward. Green Week is the Commission’s annual environment conference and in May 2018 it’s all about cities, green cities for a greener future.”

To help co-create answers that will put people first and increase people’s trust in public authorities, Boni announced a new campaign to begin in May next year, Cities4Europe – Europe4citizens. It will showcase successful local initiatives that engage citizens, present ideas for new forms of democracy and map out a common future for Europe.

“We are a network of doers,” she said. “And that is why we launched the campaign. Europe cannot have a bright future unless it learns to effectively work with cities and citizens.”

Image: Daniël Termont, Mayor of Ghent and President of EUROCITIES

Source: Cities Today

This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.