Preparing for the Belgian presidency of the EU: 40 cities take part!
In preparation for the EU presidency, Perspective met with representatives of major European cities to discuss the priorities for European urban policy.
Consulting for a better presidency
Perspective places great importance on consultation and cooperation. The preparations for the EU presidency will involve meetings with various local, national and European organisations to provide input for the discussions around this presidency.
After an initial phase of bilateral meetings, a meeting with representatives from European cities took place on 13 June 2023.
The objective was to garner their impressions of the initial programme proposals and discuss their priorities for European urban policy.
The meeting programme
At the meeting, Jan Olbrycht, President of the European Parliament's URBAN Intergroup, recalled the current European context:
- There is no European urban policy, but there are urban dimensions to some European policies;
- Cities are key to solving Europe's challenges. The Belgian Presidency is eagerly awaited, particularly in the context of preparing new European policies after 2027;
- There is no specific action for cities at European level. In the future, the cities and city networks will need to be better organised to ask Europe for a European urban policy based on the major cities.
The fifty or so participants were divided into round tables on two themes: European urban policy priorities and European tools for urban governance.
Urban policy: overview of the priorities
On the subject of urban policy, participants reflected on the urban policy priorities that should be given to the next European mandate in order to respond to current challenges.
3 key priorities were discussed:
- The right to housing;
- Combating social inequalities and promoting inclusion;
- Protecting the climate and the environment.
Governance tools: the need to involve cities on a European level
Urban development is not currently a European competence, and cities are not automatically taken into consideration at EU level.
Participants discussed how cities could be more involved in EU policy and decision-making to ensure that urban issues are taken into account in EU legislation and policies.
Various solutions were proposed:
- Develop a long-term European urban vision, recognising the importance of cities and defining the EU's expectations of cities;
- Develop a direct dialogue between mayors and the EU, so that they can give their opinion before any new European regulations impacting cities;
- Give cities easier access to European funds;
- Increase the importance and visibility of urban affairs within the various European institutions (European Parliament, Council of the EU, European Commission, Committee of the Regions).
A new consultation phase will be held in October during the "European Week of Regions and Cities" to gather new proposals to complete the Presidency's urban programme.