“Imperative that we rethink Europe” was the message at CEMR 2016 Congress
At the closing plenary, he called on mayors to take part in the future of Europe, but pointed out that the reality of the European Union may be completely different in a few months should the referendum yield a Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. While recognising that proximity to citizens entails more responsibility for local authorities, there was also a frank assessment that there are many mayors and citizens that are becoming increasingly anti-European. He suggested that “local government has to rethink Europe because all the decisions at the EU level are implemented at the local level”.
Jan Olbrycht was speaking along with the Mayor of Johannesburg, Mpho Parks Tau, and the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Jean-Claude Frécon, who called to rethink the European project. Participants to the closing Plenary suggested that a new practice of local and European policy will re-invigorate a desire for Europe that “has dried up”.
The aim of the CEMR Congress was to discuss about the vision of Europe in 2030 around 7 major themes: Governance & Leadership; Economy & Finance; Business, Technology & Innovation; Society & Culture; Environment, Climate & Energy; Cooperation & Partnerships and finally the EU Integration.
EU Capitals Mayors’ Meeting in Amsterdam
Matthijs van Miltenburg and Jan Olbrycht represented the URBAN Intergroup during the fifth EU Capitals Mayors’ Meeting which took place in Amsterdam on April 20th and 21st. The meeting gathered together 27th Mayors of the European capital cities and Corina Cretu, Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy to directly discuss the future of European cities.
In the context of the EU Urban Agenda and the approval of the Pact of Amsterdam scheduled for May 30th, Mayors shared their views on challenges that European cities are facing. They debated about air quality and urban mobility, growing need for affordable housing, promotion of dialogue and fight against radicalization. Moreover, big part of the discussion was devoted to the refugee’s crises. Participants exchange their experience how to provide temporary shelter and promote integration and inclusion of refugees in urban society.
Matthijs van Miltenburg (NL), ALDE MEP and shadow rapporteur on the Urban Agenda in the European Parliament, intervened on the topic of integration and social inclusion of refugees in urban societies. “Cities are in a central position regarding the social, humanitarian and financial challenges caused by the influx of refugees. One of the key challenges is to not only provide shelter at the short term, but also to ensure integration in the long run. In my opinion, Member States should take their responsibilities and implement the European agreement on the relocation scheme for refugees, based on the principle of solidarity. In order to facilitate the reception, support and integration of refugees at a local level, European funds should be made directly available for cities and city regions” sais Van Miltenburg.
During the meeting Declaration by the Mayors of the EU Capital Cities on the EU Urban Agenda and Refugee Crisis has ben adopted.
Jan Olbrycht, stressed in his talk about the further development of the EU Urban Agenda that the leadership is needed after the Dutch Presidency of the Council. He insisted on the fact that “the EU institutions, including the European Parliament, want to help cities, along subsidiarity principle, to face current challenges, and not to replace cities”. Moreover, the European Parliament, as co-legislator, will need direct contact with the partnerships of the EU Urban Agenda and preliminary results during the work on the regulations for the next financial perspective.