If the EU is to meet its climate change commitments, end energy poverty and drive sustainable growth, regions and cities must become smarter by strengthening cooperation and better exploit new technologies. This was the shared message today in Brussels by the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Markku Markkula, and the European Commission's Vice-President in charge of Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič.
The high-level conference and debate " Investing in Europe: Building A Coalition of Smart Cities & Regions ", was organised by the two EU institutions and attended by the economist Jeremy Rifkin. The event has held shortly after the release of the EU's Second Report on the State of the Energy Union which confirmed that the EU is well on track to reach its 2020 energy and climate objectives.
European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič responsible for the Energy Union said: "Cities and regions face many challenges, from air pollution to traffic congestion. But every time I talk to a mayor or a regional leader, it strikes me how creative and innovative our cities and regions are in finding solutions for these challenges. Solutions that are tailor-made, but can nevertheless inspire other cities across Europe to come up with their own solutions. How to become a smart city or region? How to design a good project? How to attract the necessary investments? Very practical, but at the same time very real questions for many local authorities. I am confident that today's conference will bring additional answers".
Several pioneering cities and regions presented their own strategies demonstrating the benefits of reducing energy consumption, investing in innovation and digitalising their economy which has brought jobs and environmental benefits to their communities.
Referring to growing criticism directed at the European Union, President Markku Markkula argued that rolling-out the Energy Union and creating smarter cities and regions would demonstrate the benefits the EU brings to its citizens. President Markkula said: "The EU has set down the right path to deliver a more sustainable future but it relies on regions and cities to deliver. The progress in energy efficiency, cutting CO2 emissions and using renewables is encouraging but far more needs to be done. We need to plug the €250bn investment gap by directing EU funds and private investment towards innovation, new technologies and new industries. Every EU region and city must share the responsibility by developing their own smart strategies, cooperating together, working with the private sector and using all funds available to build a better future". The President of EU's assembly of local and regional authorities is to present his opinion on 'Bridging the Investment Gap ' during CoR's plenary session on 8 February 2017.
Economist and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin said: "The Third Industrial Revolution Smart Europe narrative and economic road map is currently being implemented across the regions of Hauts-de-France, the 23 municipalities that comprise the Metropolitan Region of Rotterdam to The Hague and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The Smart Europe initiative marks the next stage of the European journey to create a single, integrated, continental market ".
For more information on this event click here. This event is web live streamed.
Smart Cities and Communities are supported at large scale through H2020 where high impact Smart City-Lighthouse projects have been funded so far with 250 Million Euro, involving close to 60 cities and leveraging an expected 1000 Million Euro. These projects are focused on bankable smart city solutions with high replication potential and development of innovative business model is at their core.
The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) gathers over 6.000 stakeholders from cities, industry, business and the financing sector to facilitate and to actively develop roll-out actions in the areas of Energy, Transport and Information & Communication Technologies (ICT). Targeted initiatives have been launched from within the respective Thematic Action Clusters to gather the most committed actors to come to tangible and reproducible results and to trigger investment at scale.
For the Second Report on the State of Energy Union, click here . 2017 is to be the year of implementation of the Energy Union as 2016 delivered its Framework Strategy and concrete legislative and non-legislative initiatives, above all with the " Clean Energy for all Europeans " package presented on 30 November 2016.
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