Propose the steps that need to be taken on how to improve the urban dimension in EU policy.
Provide a political assessment and concrete cases, linked to the themes of the EU Urban Agenda, which show that either EU legislation,
urban governance, access to EU funding or the knowledge base can be improved;
Assess the wider territorial dimension of an EU Urban agenda including the urban-rural interlinkages.
This CoR opinion responds to a request by the Dutch Presidency of the Council sent to the CoR on 30 - September 2015. The CoR has been an active institutional actor over the whole process of discussion of the Pact of Amsterdam on the EU Urban Agenda. Representatives of the CoR have participated in the Urban Development Group and the Directors Generals responsible for Urban Development meetings providing its comments on the various draft versions of the Pact of Amsterdam.
In the meantime, Czech government and the UN HABITAT III Secretariat organised the European Conference on HABITAT III on 16-18 April 2016 in Prague. The "Declaration" adopted during this meeting, as an official input to the HABITAT III process, took into consideration the main messages of the Opinion. The CoR rapporteur, Ms Hella Dunger-Löper, had the opportunity to present the content of the opinion to the audience and, among other aspects, the final version of the Prague Declaration recognised the holistic and integrated approach for a New Urban Agenda, as well as the relevance of international cooperation and exchanges between regional and local authorities to promote sustainable economic development, social and environmental protection.
Moreover, the EU Capital Mayors adopted a Declaration on 21 April in Amsterdam, where the COTER Chair, Mr Raffaele Cattaneo represented the CoR. This political statement clearly followed the CoR Opinion and endorsed the fact 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.
Finally, the Pact of Amsterdam on the Urban Agenda was adopted by the EU ministers in charge of urban matters 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.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that the aim of the new EU Urban Agendas is to improve the quality of life in towns and cities and to develop new "urban" governance, in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Three key criteria are crucial to making this process successful: transparency, participation and binding force;
- underlines that EU policies must not encourage a competitive relationship between urban and rural dimensions in so far as they are integrated geographically, administratively and in terms of functional and thematic policies;
- notes that the EU Urban agenda should also provide guidance for the EU's negotiation positions with view to the Habitat III conference, Quito, October 2016;
- asks that the European Commission plays a strong and binding role in dealing with coordination. This includes the appointment of the first vice-president as coordinator of the EU Urban Agenda, who through his role would also guarantee a close link with the Better Regulation agenda;
- continues to call for a systematic review of ways of improving support for towns, cities and their functional areas;
- recommends the use of the Investment Advisory Hub set up at the European Investment Bank in order to be able to make systematic use of the EIB's financing instruments for towns and cities;
- asks the European Commission for a White Paper that assesses and systematises the results of the thematic partnerships and describes the elements of better governance.