The CoR achieved high visibility at the EU Urban Forum on 17-18 February 2014, where CoR President, the rapporteur, as well as several other CoR members participated as speakers. The draft CoR opinion was presented by the rapporteur to the informal meeting of national ministries' director generals responsible for urban policy and the EUROCITIES/CEMR seminar on the Monday morning, which were both official fringe meetings, and was also disseminated to all participants through the EC event's website. Several keynote speakers referred to the CoR during the two-days of the forum, including Minister Lamy (France) and Commissioner Hahn, who warmly thanked the CoR in the closing session for its contribution to the success of the forum, its involvement in the organisation of the event and its support for an EU urban agenda.
The draft opinion was circulated by the Greek presidency of the Council to all participants of the intergovernmental 'Urban Development Group' (UDG) ahead of the meeting scheduled on 28 February 2014 and had markedly influenced the working document on a "Framework Urban Agenda" circulated by the Dutch delegation for discussion at this occasion (notably pp. 7-9).
The final opinion was circulated to all Member States by the Italian presidency of the Council at the occasion of the Urban Development Group (UDG) meeting in Rome on 3-4 July 2014. It was shortly presented during the meeting by the COTER secretariat and the value of the CoR input was recognised by several Member States as well as by the Italian presidency of the Council.
The Commission published on 18 July 2014 a Communication on The urban dimension of EU policies- key features of an EU urban agenda"- COM(2014) 490 final and launched a public consultation on the matter (the results of the public consultation have been published on 22 May 2015 in the Commission Staff Working Document on Results of the public consultation on the key features of an EU Urban Agenda – SWD(2015) 109 final, which was also presented at the 2nd CITIES forum "An Urban Agenda for Europe" on 2 June 2015 in Brussels). This development was supported by the CoR opinion and is widely considered as a stepping stone towards a more ambitious EU urban agenda under the new Commission mandate. The EC communication mentioned the CoR twice (see pages 3 and 8).
Also in line with the CoR opinion, the General Affairs Council of 19 November 2014 recognised the need for an EU Urban Agenda and requested the European Commission to develop this, factoring in the territorial dimension and the Territorial Agenda 2020 (as had also been requested by the CoR).
Under the Latvian presidency of the Council, the informal meeting of ministers responsible for territorial cohesion and urban matters, which was held on 10 June 2015 in Riga, adopted the Declaration of Ministers towards the EU Urban Agenda. This declaration was the first official commitment of EU-ministers responsible for Urban Development to the development of an EU Urban Agenda. The Riga declaration highlighted a number of key concerns of the CoR, in particular the need for an integrated and place-based approach, the need for effective coordination of EU polices with an urban dimension, the recognition of the partnership principle as well as the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, and the fact that the EU Urban Agenda should apply to towns and cities of all sizes. It also expresses the commitment of ministers to support effective multilevel-governance and to involve local and regional authorities in policy making, including the design, implementation and monitoring of urban policies and policies with a clear urban impact, the commitment to facilitate adequate capacity in local and regional authorities, as well as the call to the European Commission to enhance ex-ante impact assessment of new EU initiatives and legislation with regards to their territorial impacts and consequences for local authorities.
At its plenary session on 9 September 2015, the European Parliament adopted its resolution on The Urban dimension of EU policies. The rapporteur for this dossier was Ms Kerstin Westphal (DE/S&D). The EP resolution reflected, to a large extent, the CoR opinion following a prior exchange between the two rapporteurs and the submission of a number of amendments to the EP rapporteur that she tabled in REGI.
Examples of synergies between the two reports are the following requests made in the EP resolution:
the Commission to introduce, as a general rule, a territorial impact assessment on the urban dimension in order to ensure the practical feasibility of all relevant EU policy initiatives at regional and local level, to be receptive to the input from decentralised levels of government when drawing up impact assessments and new policies ("bottom-up approach") and to make sure that all relevant sectorial EU policies adequately address the challenges that towns, cities and functional urban areas face;
the European Urban Agenda to be based on a new multilevel governance method, involving the local level more closely at all stages of the policy cycle;
consolidation and better coordination between urban platforms and networks (such as URBACT, the Urban Development Network) allowing for knowledge sharing between actors;
in order to be able to assess urban areas more accurately than just on the basis of the GDP indicator, sufficient data must be made available; Eurostat should provide and compile more detailed local data and that work should continue on the Urban Audit and similar surveys; the Commission to work on instruments that could measure the progress and impact of an integrated urban agenda at EU level;
greater involvement of towns and cities in the Structural and Investment Funds' programmes; the lessons drawn from this could feed into an important policy recommendation for the development of cohesion policy after 2020;
the Commission to designate a special EU urban coordinator;
encourages Eurostat and the Commission to provide and compile more detailed data at local level.
The EP resolution also refers to the following facts that the CoR rapporteur brought up in the CoR opinion:
that the EU has a unique polycentric structure built around large, medium-sized and small towns and cities;
that 70% of European policies and legislation are implemented at local and regional level.
Another highlight in the cooperation with the European Parliament on the matter was the joint REGI-COTER meeting on 13 October 2015, where REGI and COTER members agreed on a joint statement on the REGI-COTER cooperation towards the Pact of Amsterdam, in which both committees explicitly agreed to join forces in their work towards the Pact of Amsterdam, which was complemented by a REGI-COTER roadmap on the matter.
The Mayors of the EU Capital Cities adopted a Declaration on the EU Urban Agenda on 21 April 2016 in Amsterdam. This political statement clearly followed the CoR opinion and underlined that the final goal of the EU Urban Agenda should be a genuine cross-cutting anchoring of the urban dimension in the EU decision-making process ("urban mainstreaming"), which applies to all relevant European policies and legislation, with a bottom-up approach.
The opinion, together with the CoR opinion on "Concrete steps for implementing the EU Urban Agenda" (COTER-IV/10, rapporteur: Ms Hella Dunger-Löper (DE/PES)), which had been requested by the Dutch Presidency of the Council, served as a basis for shaping the content of the draft 'Pact of Amsterdam'. The Pact of Amsterdam establishing the Urban Agenda for the EU was finally adopted at the informal ministerial meeting on 30 May 2016 in Amsterdam. A number of CoR recommendations was taken on board in the final version of the Pact, such as the clarification of the status of the CoR as an EU advisory body, the inclusion of a chapter on Member States, including the commitment to engage the relevant bodies at all levels of government in the implementation of the EU Urban Agenda, as well as the call upon the European Commission (EC) to regularly report on the state of play of the EU Urban Agenda.
In parallel to the informal ministerial meeting, the CoR organised its Forum on the EU Urban Agenda in Amsterdam, jointly with the Association of Netherlands Municipalities, the Association of the Provinces of the Netherlands, the City of Amsterdam and the Province of Noord-Holland. The event brought together more than 400 representatives of local and regional authorities, EU Institutions, Member States and relevant stakeholders, who discussed the concrete steps that are needed to implement the Urban Agenda and to improve the urban dimension in EU policy making. It was also the culmination point of a process of close cooperation of the CoR with the Dutch authorities to place the urban dimension of the urban policies at the core of the EU institutions' agenda. The CoR Forum allowed a very good reflection on the horizontal nature of the Urban Agenda, its mainstreaming and its value for the coordination of sectoral policies. Both the European Parliament and the Commission underlined the important role of the CoR in implementing and politically monitoring the EU Urban Agenda. There was also general consensus that the adoption of the Pact of Amsterdam was not the end, but only the beginning of a continuous process of implementing the Urban Agenda. Regarding the media aspects, the CoR press release on the Pact of Amsterdam was send out in 15 different versions, 13 languages, with tailored content and quotes of 20 CoR members. The activities resulted in about 150 articles and broadcasts in 20 countries including by several national media.
On 24 June 2016, the General Affairs Council adopted the Council conclusions on an Urban Agenda for the EU. The Council Conclusions in particular invited the Committee of the Regions to provide input, within its competences, for the further development of the Urban Agenda.
Le Comité des régions,
- Le traité sur l'Union européenne comporte plusieurs références qui donnent à l'UE une base juridique pour soutenir la politique urbaine menée à l'échelon national, régional et local. Toutefois, il n'existe pour l'instant aucune stratégie urbaine globale tournée vers l'avenir au niveau de l'UE. En raison de l'absence d'une telle stratégie, la cohérence entre les différents programmes de subvention et initiatives politiques est insuffisante au niveau de l'UE et certaines de ces actions politiques ne débouchent pas sur les résultats concrets escomptés;
- Le Comité des régions appelle la Commission à présenter à la suite de la communication prévue à l'issue du forum urbain des 17 et 18 février 2014 un livre blanc sur un programme urbain intégré;
- L'objectif de ce livre blanc est de parvenir à une approche plus intégrée de la politique et de la réglementation de l'UE qui s'applique aux villes et aux zones urbaines afin d'éviter les doubles emplois et incohérences existants, et d'associer davantage les villes et les collectivités locales et régionales à la préparation de cette politique. Il devrait également formuler des recommandations sur les éléments des programmes de financement européen susceptibles de promouvoir le développement des villes;
- Le livre blanc doit déboucher à terme sur un véritable ancrage horizontal de la dimension urbaine dans le processus de décision de l'UE ("intégration de la dimension urbaine"), et non sur une stratégie ou un programme spécifique de l'UE;
- Jusqu'à présent, l'UE a appliqué des réglementations générales et des délais uniformes pour réaliser ses objectifs politiques. Le CdR estime qu'elle doit désormais mieux tenir compte de la faisabilité de ses initiatives aux niveaux local et (infra)régional dans le cadre de l'élaboration de ses politiques et être ouverte aux contributions des collectivités territoriales à la réalisation d'analyses d'impact et à l'élaboration de la nouvelle politique;
- Il est temps d'instaurer une nouvelle gouvernance qui renforce la participation des villes dans l'ensemble du cycle d'élaboration des politiques européennes. En associant mieux les villes et les collectivités locales et régionales à toutes les phases de ce cycle, l'UE pourra influer de manière plus efficace sur les changements que connaissent pour l'instant les villes.