The future of Europe depends on its cities – this was the sentiment shared by Rotterdam mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, at the Cities Forum 2020, which took place last week in Porto.
With the majority of wealth, jobs and innovation situated in our cities, the mayor highlighted, “it is really important that we learn to work together, between the national states, national governments, parliaments, with city governments, to change the way we make our economies and our cities,” which he described as a “real lesson for Europe,” insofar as the European Union should “try to find another focus, instead of having a focus on national governments, to move a bit the focus to the cities.”
In additional comments, he also stated that “Europe is about peace, about stability and not about the economy first. Economy is second. If we don't build a Europe for citizens, all Europeans would not believe in a common Europe.”
With the so-called ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’, set to take place on a grand scale over the next two years and offer the EU fresh insight and purpose, the mayor makes a very timely point. If the EU wants to really reach out to citizens, working with the closest level of government to people, where all the necessary existing infrastructure already exists, is the obvious route forward.
The Cities Forum, organised by the European Commission every two years, brings together mayors and Commission officials to reflect on the future directions of urban development within Cohesion Policy including the future of the Urban Agenda for the EU. This year’s debate focussed on the topic of sustainable cities, under the motto ‘Together we shape a sustainable future’.
It was jointly chaired by European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira and Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira.
Read more here.