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‘Pact of Amsterdam’ agreed

Words: Laura Edgar

The European Commission's informal ministerial meeting on urban matters has agreed on the “Pact of Amsterdam", which sets out the principles of the Urban Agenda for the European Union (EU).

The meeting was made up of the 28 ministers in charge of urban matters, the European Commission (EC), representatives from other EU institutions, and representatives from European cities.

The aim was to endorse the Pact of Amsterdam (pdf), which sets out the Urban Agenda for the EU, including key principles.

The Urban Agenda for the EU centres on the development of 12 partnerships on 12 identified urban challenges. These partnerships, said the commission, would allow cities, member states, EU institutions and stakeholders to work together on an equal basis to find common ways to improve urban areas in the EU.

Action plans designed by the partnerships focus on a more effective implementation of existing EU policies in cities in areas such as environment, transport and employment, said the commission.

The actions plans, it added, are in line with its commitment to better regulation. 

In addition, it would focus on easing access to EU funding, promoting combination of EU funds and “enhancing the knowledge base regarding urban matters and the exchange of best practices.

Four pilot partnerships have already been launched:

  • The inclusion of migrants and refugees, coordinated by the city of Amsterdam;

  • Air quality, coordinated by the Netherlands;

  • Housing, coordinated by Slovakia; and

  • Urban poverty, coordinated by Belgium and France.

The remaining partnerships will be launched between the end of 2016 and the summer of 2017.

Maroš Šefčovič, the commission’s vice-president in charge of the Energy Union, said: “Cities are living laboratories in the transition to a low-carbon economy. The European Commission works hand in hand with mayors and regional authorities to enable them to showcase the good examples as an incentive and a source of inspiration to others, in Europe as well as outside Europe."

Corina Crețu, commissioner for regional policy, said cities are “hubs of creativity and engines of European growth”, but they face “major” challenges, such as social exclusion, air pollution and unemployment.

“We need to tackle these problems together. Our commitment to having an Urban Agenda shows that we are putting urban matters higher on our agenda and are ready to listen more to our cities when it comes to what works for them and what needs to be improved,” she said.

More information about the partnerships can be found here.

The Pact of Amsterdam can be found here (pdf).

Image credit | iStock