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May 22-24 | 2019

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The change Europe needs

Across Europe, millions of people are about to go to the polls – to vote for, who knows what? In fact, it’s not just the result that is much in doubt this time – will there be a plurality of ‘pro-European’ voices, will the far right or anti-Europeans form a new block? It’s also the question of just what are people voting for?

As we have seen with the Brexit referendum, people vote on European issues from a distance. They do not always feel the impact of a European vote in the same way they do for a national or local election. This distance – between Europe and Europeans – is a gap that cities can help bridge.

Cities work with people every day, we engage them in our decision making, listen, and design policy around their needs and with them. It’s this sort of reality checking that cities can help deliver at the European level, through networks like EUROCITIES.

We want the European institutions to work with us as partners in decision making, to let us shape policy where it matters – at the level of the citizen.

Many positive steps have been made in recent years. The Urban Agenda for the EU is a prime example. It is a first step in this process of engaging different levels of government in common policy endeavours. And long may it continue, and strengthen in the next institutional cycle.

At EUROCITIES we recently launched our ‘city leaders’ agenda for Europe’ where we set out our conviction that Europe depends on its cities. Cities are the place where the fight against climate change becomes real, where technological innovation can help boost the digital transformation, and where equal and inclusive societies are made.

Last month over 60 mayors gathered in Brussels for EUROCITIES second mayors’ summit to make these messages to European leaders. Next month many of us will meet again at the Urban Future Global Conference. We need to keep meeting, and sharing knowledge and ideas between cities across Europe, with our local business partners, international investors and with all levels of government to achieve a more positive Europe.

This is how we will work towards a future that is fit for all. The future of Europe is once more being thrust into the limelight with the onset of the elections. We need to take a moment to consider how we attain this future. For instance, achieving a climate neutral Europe by 2050 and driving Europe’s competitiveness largely depends on the action of cities.

We’ve set an ambitious agenda for Europe’s leaders to follow, but one we know can be achieved through strategic partnership and collaboration. It’s simple really, work with cities and you work with citizens.

Now to the changemakers across Europe, I ask you also to work with us. Share this message to change the way we do things in Europe.

Our urban future depends on our common dreams and commitment to be the change Europe needs.

EUROCITIES is the political platform for major European cities. We network the local governments of over 140 of Europe’s largest cities and more than 40 partner cities that between them govern some 130 million citizens across 39 countries.

By Anna Lisa Boni, secretary general, EUROCITIES

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