On Tuesday 7 March, EUROCITIES held a ‘Mayors summit on the future of Europe’
in the Committee of the Regions to debate the worrying trend of rising populism
Gathering 17 mayors and 17 vice mayors from cities across Europe - and representatives from the European institutions including two Commission vice presidents, Frans Timmermans and Jyrki Katainen, Commissioner Corina Cretu, as well as the deputy prime minister of Malta, Louis Grech – EUROCITIES set up a very timely debate.
The summit builds on the principles outlined in the EUROCITIES open letter from European mayors
issued in November 2016. Headed towards Rome, EUROCITIES will carry three key messages to EU heads of state and government and the Commission:
Europe’s cities need an EU that can deliver effective solutions to common challenges, such as climate, jobs, growth and security, which can only be dealt with at EU level.
There is a wealth of experience and examples from our cities about how we listen to and engage our citizens in developing the solutions we need to tackle these challenges, which can also inspire the EU institutions.
City leaders should actively work with us in ongoing open dialogue with the EU institutions about current and future challenges and how best to meet those together, such as through the EU urban agenda.
Daniel Termont, mayor of Ghent and president of EUROCITIES, said: “As Europe’s leaders prepare to mark 60 years since the Treaty of Rome, we find ourselves at a turning point in Europe. Let’s see this as an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Europe’s core values of respect, freedom, democracy and equality. And most of all, let’s make this about the people that live in Europe. By working with cities, the EU institutions can find new ways to engage citizens and be inspired by our experience on the ground.”
This message was further emphasised in the opening speech by vice president Katainen, who said we must be ready to address issues of populism with democratic tools that empower citizens.
Markku Markkula, president, Committee of the Regions
, remarked that cities and regions are crucial to rebuilding trust in Europe. Mayors across Europe involve citizens in decision making, and several cities intervened on effective co-creation practices.
In Braga, for example, there are open meetings for citizens where more significant projects for the communities are presented. Paris has a participatory budget process, allowing projects to be voted on, and therefore decided on directly by citizens. Rotterdam set up co-creation initiatives with citizens on areas such as neighbourhood security. Stockholm has used an app for the past two years through which citizens can submit questions, ideas or complaints related to environment and traffic.
In his remarks, Frans Timmermans, first vice president, European Commission said that cities are well placed to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution, create greater social mobility and spread positive messages about integration.
EUROCITIES is currently gathering contributions from its more than 130 member cities on ways to rethink and remodel European democracy, and will be actively engaging in the future of Europe debate over the coming months.
Missed this debate? Take a look at these useful links below:
Watch the full debate recording here
And check out the action on Twitter via our Storify