The new European Urban Agenda should improve the quality of life in cities but also the EU governance. It is about developing new working methods, including partnerships and selective impact assessments of legislation. European Parliament's Regional Development Committee and Committee of the Region's COTER members stressed in a joint hearing on Monday afternoon that to reach this goal there is a need for a practical and concrete approach, reflecting the needs on the ground and building partnerships with different levels of government. Iskra Mihaylova (ALDE, BG), chairwoman of the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development (REGI), said: "I firmly believe that the European Parliament, together with the other EU institutions, national governments and local and regional actors, has a key role to play in shaping the new urban paradigm. It is important to identify and tackle bottlenecks between different levels of government, both with regards to rules and funding instruments. In addition, improved coordination and implementation of existing policies and programmes impacting on cities is crucial." "I welcome the efforts announced by the Dutch presidency of the Council of Ministers to put forward the EU Urban Agenda," said Raffaele Cattaneo (EPP, IT), chairman of the CoR's Committee for Territorial Cohesion Policy and the EU Budget (COTER). "However, it is crucial that the EU Urban Agenda goes beyond the intergovernmental level and is closely linked to the Better regulation Agenda of the European Commission, including within its framework the use of Territorial and Urban Impact Assessments " Both Ms Mihaylova and Mr Cattaneo warned that an EU Urban Agenda should not end up being limited to discussions in working groups and exchanges of best practices. Consultation with cities needs to be "mainstreamed" in EU policy-making, they said. This was the first joint hearing held by the regional-policy panels of the two political assemblies. Particular attention was devoted to the integration of immigrants in Europe's cities, and on issues that undermine the quality of life in cities, including urban sprawl and poverty. Members considered three case studies, one on Barcelona's integration of immigrants, one on Stockholm's urban planning and one on Zagreb's accessible housing.
Note to editorsThe EU Urban Agenda, which is a central feature of the Netherlands' presidency, would identify common objectives and coordinate EU initiatives impacting on cities. The Dutch government aims to secure agreement on the EU Urban Agenda – the 'Pact of Amsterdam' – in May, when ministers will meet informally in Amsterdam.
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