“In a knowledge-driven economy, cities and towns are engines for growth and jobs in the EU” – Bas Verkerk (ALDE/NL) speaking in the European Parliament REGI committee

Invited to speak on behalf of the CoR in the Regional Development Committee of the European Parliament on the urban dimension of EU policies, ALDE-CoR President Bas Verkerk (NL/ALDE) addressed the continued relevance of an integrated European urban agenda. In his intervention on Thursday the 16th of February he emphasised that “an urban agenda at EU level would recognise the importance of cities and towns in achieving European policy objectives and making Europe more internationally competitive. It would improve the integration of the urban dimension in EU policy making and facilitate its implementation. This is certainly a win-win situation for Europe and its cities.”

The REGI meeting served as a first debate about the draft report by the European Parliament on the same topic. The ensuing debate addressed questions of urban mobility, smart cities & communities as well as an early warning mechanism. The issue of functional urban areas, which Mr Verkerk addressed at length, was also taken up by EP rapporteur Mrs Kerstin Westphal.

Mr Verkerk has been calling upon the European Commission to present an integrated Urban Agenda for the EU since the adoption of his opinion by the CoR plenary last year. He’s urging for the Urban Agenda to be drafted in close cooperation with European cities. The involvement should ensure the integration of two recent developments in EU policy making: 1) The establishment of functional regions and agglomerations and 2) A new relation between local government and society.

To ensure that these two developments are integrated in EU policy making, the Committee of the Regions calls on the Commission to present a white paper for an integrated EU urban agenda. He said “We call for a white paper in order to come to a real integration of the urban dimension, after almost 20 years of discussion and several declarations, motions and debates.”

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