Written by Christiaan van Lierop
Our towns and cities are home to nearly three quarters of the EU’s population and most EU policies concern them, be it directly or indirectly.
Within the EU, a shared vision of urban development has gradually taken shape at inter-governmental level. At the same time there have been increasing calls for concrete action and the development of an EU Urban Agenda to give city authorities and stakeholders a greater say in the process. To help guide these discussions, the European Commission launched a public consultation following its July 2014 Communication on the Urban Dimension of EU policies. Its findings indicate broad support among city stakeholders for an EU Urban Agenda. The European Parliament has also prepared a draft report on the issue as part of this process, which is due to be debated at the September plenary session.
The revised 2014-20 Cohesion Policy framework introduced a number of new instruments intended to increase the role of cities in cohesion programming and implementation and thus enhance the urban dimension of cohesion funding. Analysis of the operational programmes prepared thus far, however, reveals a low uptake of these instruments by the Member States, calling into question the commitment of national governments to the urban agenda.
While the debate progresses, Member States continue to differ in terms of their vision of an EU Urban Agenda and the means to implement it. The EP has actively participated in this debate and aims to make a valuable contribution to the efforts of future presidencies to reach consensus and move the process forward.