The European Committee of the Regions has thrown its support behind the Dutch EU Presidency welcoming its efforts to support Europe's cities. Addressing the Committee's plenary in Brussels today, Ronald Plasterk, Dutch Minister of Interior and Kingdom Relations, set out the Presidency's priorities which include a new urban agenda, better regulation and boosting investment.
Minister Plasterk remarked, “The aim of the EU Urban Agenda is to maximise the contribution of cities to European objectives. The Agenda strives to improve coordination of EU and national policies which have a clear impact on cities. This should lead to more “urban proof policies through better regulation, better access to financing and better knowledge exchange”.
Speaking during the plenary, the Committee's President – Markku Markkula – said, "The commitment to renew the urban agenda is most welcome. Creating and investing in sustainable cities has long been a shared objective by governments at all levels but there has been an apparent lack of coherence in EU policy. The Dutch government's efforts to create better legislation that takes into account the local dimension and cuts across policy areas must be used as a model for the future.
The CoR recently called to ensure that the EU Urban Agenda goes beyond simply reinforced cooperation and sharing of practices. The assembly of local and regional governments argues that what cities need is real change in the way the EU shapes its rules. "It is not about more or less rules and legislation, but better regulation: more comprehensive, more integrated and no sectorial policies", Cor Lamers (NL/EPP), Head of the Dutch delegation in the European Committee of the Regions and Mayor of Schiedam.
The Dutch Presidency's urban agenda will culminate in the Pact of Amsterdam to be endorsed during a meeting of EU Ministers at the end of May. Led by Hella Dunger-Löper (DE/PES), the CoR will adopt its position on the Urban Agenda in April which will contribute to the "EU Forum on the Urban Agenda" in Amsterdam which it is organising with the Provinces of the Netherlands, the City of Amsterdam and the Province of North-Holland.