Explain how small urban areas and medium-sized cities can contribute to managing the current transitions (green, digital, etc.);
Stress the added value of focusing the recovery in small urban areas in order to ensure that no territory is left behind;
Explain that the main characteristics of small urban areas and their development challenges (demographic, environmental, digital, socio-economic, difficult access to basic services, etc.) are key to mitigate the territorial impact of the current transitions;
Identify appropriate policy responses provided by small urban areas in order to maximise the impact of investments in a key moment of programming new territorial and recovery strategies.
Contribute to the implementation of the Long-term Vision for Rural Areas and how this dimension could be taken into account in the Structural and Cohesion Funds, particularly in the preparation of operational programmes;
A proposal put forward by the European Commission on concrete tools to support small urban areas and medium-sized cities to access and manage EU structural and cohesion programmes under PO 5;
An increased involvement of small local authorities in the implementation of a new generation of the Urban Agenda for the EU partnerships and the Territorial Agenda 2030.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- stresses that European small urban areas are, by default, heterogeneous; depending on their location, territorial context and economic and labour market structure, they have completely different characteristics (and challenges);
- calls therefore on the Commission to undertake an impact assessment before introducing further definitions, in particular with regard to the objectives set out in Article 174 TFEU and the distribution of funding;
- considers that often small urban areas do not have sufficient capacity or knowledge to address the challenges. There are often limited financial and administrative capacities, collaboration issues and limited decision-making power, leadership, adaptation and resilience capacities which can be acute challenges, and strategic forward thinking and innovative solutions are crucial;
- advocates that it is crucial to empower regions and cities to strengthen their capacity to build resilient communities in order to limit the EU's dependency on fossil fuels. Decentralised energy production, energy efficiency and saving plans on a local and regional level will ensure the achievement of the REPowerEU plan;
- calls for the JTF to support small and medium-sized enterprises in order to develop their businesses and build attractive and vibrant places;
- recommends that Member States invest in smart village projects, implementing digital solutions to optimise connectivity, daily life and services in small urban areas, within the national recovery and resilience plans, as well as the European Structural and Investment Funds;
- requests that Member States promote fiscal incentives linked to empty housing units in order to support access to affordable housing and to attract citizens to settle and establish their lives in shrinking small places.