EduBourseActualitésDanuta HÜBNER European Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy"Knowing and designing our cities...

Danuta HÜBNER European Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy”Knowing and designing our cities to cope with today’s and tomorrow’s challenges” Closing speech at Urban Audit Conference – ‘The state of European Cities: the Urban Audit’Brussels, 10 Jun

Closing speech at Urban Audit Conference – ‘The state of European Cities: the Urban Audit’
Brussels, 10 June 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has been highly interesting to follow the discussions over this day and one conclusion is already clear: The availability of urban statistics is essential. Such statistics form a crucial input for the development of innovative policies in response to the challenges cities are facing.

An “Urban Audit” Conference: why?

I called for this “Urban Audit” conference for two reasons.

First of all, I think that “good policy depends on good information”. The Urban Audit provides key information for European cities. This is a timely event to underline the importance of the work carried out by participating cities and by National Statistical Offices, under EUROSTAT coordination. The second large-scale phase of data collection has now reached its end. With 358 cities involved and more than 330 indicators, the urban statistics database developed is unique in the world and is a great tool for European policy-makers at all levels. It is an achievement you can be proud of.

I expect the results from the Urban Audit to be disseminated widely among the general public. Thanks to the recent data collection we now have at our disposal a series of urban data for the 2022s 1996, 2001 and 2004. Thanks to the experience gained in this exercise and to the national statistical institutes and committed cities, we hope to go one step further and start gathering a limited number of variables annually starting next 2022.

If “good policy depends on good information”, I would like to say that a second reason for me to organise this conference is that “good information depends on good understanding of policy”. It seems to me essential to bring together views from policy-makers and policy analysts. The participation of mayors of Urban Audit cities and other cities’ representatives has allowed us today to depict the broader context of what urban statistics delineate. We need this link to develop relevant analyses.

The Urban Dimension

By mainstreaming urban actions from 2007, we wanted to open the way for a better synergy between our policies. And we wanted the urban dimension to be fully integrated into this new context. We worked with the public authorities in charge of the elaboration of the programming documents for 2007-2013 to integrate priorities for sustainable urban development in their National Strategic Reference Frameworks.

On the whole the objective of sustainable urban development has been included in the programming process and reflected in the national strategies and programmes. The integrated and participative approach to urban renewal and development is a strong feature of the majority of regional operational programmes.

In Germany, financial resources allocated to integrated urban development are significantly greater than in the preceding period. In Ile de France, on the basis of the evaluation of the URBAN Programmes, the need for a better focus on job-creation and support for SMEs in deprived neighbourhoods is highlighted. In many new Member States, cohesion policy introduces a new approach to addressing urban issues, a policy which in many of these countries has not been previously developed.

An effective mainstreaming of the urban dimension is also a way to deliver on the main issues raised by the Leipzig Charter and the EP resolution. We now have a framework that all stakeholders – the Commission, Member States, cities and regions – agree on. But there are further challenges to be tackled – underlined by the Leipzig Charter, such as declining demography, social inequality, affordable and suitable housing and environmental problems

Challenges

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us take a closer look at these challenges. Some of them have come out clearly from the discussions at this conference and we need to keep them in mind – with a solid information base – when designing the policy for urban development post-2013:

The first one is related to demographic changes: As we heard during the first session, ageing, migration and depopulation are features that are already impacting heavily on urban development. The latest results of the Urban Audit confirm that within the global trend of population ageing, certain cities are shrinking faster than others. This is in particular the case in Central Europe where the tendency observed already in 1996 and 2001 has worsened further in 2001 and 2004. As shown by the example of Leipzig, population decline can be addressed by innovative urban policy initiated by cities and supported through the Structural Funds.
With respect to social inequalities, we need to pay special attention to deprived neighbourhoods, as emphasized by the Charter. Through sub-city data, the Urban Audit has confirmed the importance of inequalities inside cities. Such results support strategies which involve a range of actions such as upgrading the physical environment and the promotion of efficient and affordable services.
Regarding climate change, the EU is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy efficiency. We know that cities are major players in this respect generating a large share of all greenhouse gas emissions, given the density of population, services and traffic and the Commission Green Paper on Urban Mobility adopted last 2022 stresses the importance of cities and urban areas in order to win the fight against climate change and to promote energy efficiency through improved urban transport systems. But this also means that the greatest energy savings can be made in and by the cities and several of them have launched strategies on how to address climate change. The European Parliament calls on the Commission to agree city sustainability benchmarks, as set out in the Leipzig Charter, such as per capita energy consumption, use of local public transport as a proportion of total transport volume, and per capita greenhouse gas emissions. The Urban Audit will help in this task and is further enriched by new indicators thanks to the work accomplished by the European Environment Agency.
The Urban Audit provides data on housing and helps us to understand the issues at stake. It shows us that new Member States lag behind the old ones in terms of size and comfort. As a response, specific support for the upgrading of the housing stock in new Member States has been made available through the Structural Funds, a possibility which has been taken up by the states in question.
On the issue of urban mobility, Urban Audit helps cities to compare themselves as regards their responses to the increase in traffic and the need to develop viable alternatives in the form of accessible, attractive and reliable public urban transport.
In view of these challenges, cities have to strike a difficult balance between sometimes conflicting objectives in order to reach the path of sustainable development. And it is here where the European Cohesion Policy comes in by providing tools to help our cities cope with their challenges.

The experience from the URBAN Community Initiative shows that we need to take an integrated approach to urban development. Tackling issues in a specific geographical area – such as pockets of poverty – in an integrated and holistic manner proved to be a very successful approach in the URBAN Community Initiative, which Member States and regions can now transfer to the mainstream programmes. We have seen that targeted, area-based interventions built on strong participation of citizens and all relevant stakeholders can succeed in turning around negative developments and can pave the way to sustainable development.

Part of the success lies in the focus on networking as means for promoting best practice. Cities have shared their experience in the framework of URBACT I and we hope the follow-up, URBACT II, will be equally successful. URBACT will also provide a platform for the urban dimension of Regions for Economic Change which aims at establishing a strong link between mainstream programmes and networks, and creating a structure that can capitalise on all the energies, experiences and competence available in our cities and regions. The Commission is currently in the phase of selecting networks on the urban themes of Regions for Economic Change networks and we are pleased to see the interest shown for this tool across Europe.

Concluding statements

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I conclude this very intense day with interesting discussions, I would like summarize some striking trends in urban areas:

Three out of four cities have a higher share of tertiary educated residents than their country as whole. Among the Urban Audit cities, Paris and Cambridge have the highest share of tertiary educated with 37% and 32% of their population respectively.
Despite the high concentrations of jobs in cities, employment rates are lower in three out of four cities than the national average. The differences can be striking, for example in 2001, Manchester had an employment rate of 51% while the UK had an rate of 72%.
The concentrations of unemployment in particular neighbourhoods can particularly high, almost one out two cities had neighbourhoods with unemployment rates of 20% or more, and reaching to 50% or more in some neighbourhoods.
In old Member States, the unemployment rates tend to be lower in the suburbs, while in the new Member States, most suburbs have considerably higher unemployment. This illustrates the different spatial structure and different type of suburbanisation in the old Member States.
This illustrates that Urban Audit provides data which is particularly valuable when tailor-made policy actions need to be developed to respond to city-specific challenges. It is an essential tool for everyone who is involved in raising the competitiveness and attractiveness of our cities. And it is a tool to monitor the progress we make in achieving territorial cohesion inside the European Union. As you all know, this territorial dimension is a new and for regional policy makers highly relevant dimension of the Lisbon Treaty, on top of economic and social cohesion.

To sum up, let me say that cities are keys to delivering growth and jobs, because

they are lead actors regarding all aspects of the knowledge economy,
they are crucial in the battle for sustainable development and climate change and
their representatives have considerable political weight.
In essence, this means that the policies developed by cities in order to meet their needs have influence far beyond the city border. What is being done at city level has consequences for the metropolitan area and its surroundings, the region and often the entire Member State.

In order to properly identify the issues at stake and to assess progress in cohesion and sectoral policies on given territories, we need reliable, effective and transparent indicators that should be easy to access.

This is precisely what we have the urban audit for. Urban audit data can provide crucial input, not only now when cities formulate their integrated urban development strategies for the 2007-2013 period, but also during the implementation process.

Let us not forget that the choices we make today, our successes or failures in the current programming period, will shape our reality far beyond 2013 – for the better or the worse. That is why we need our urban audit so badly. Needless to say that I am convinced that this instrument is a key element to make our urban development policy a success also during the 2007-2013 period.

I wish to thank you again for your contributions to this conference.

Pierre Perrin-Monlouis
Pierre Perrin-Monlouis
Fondateur de Rente et Patrimoine (cabinet de gestion de patrimoine), Pierre Perrin-Monlouis est un analyste et trader pour compte propre. Il vous fait profiter de son expérience en trading grâce à ses analyses financières et décrypte pour vous les actualités des marchés. Son approche globale des marchés combine à la fois l'analyse technique et l'analyse fondamentale sur l'ensemble des marchés : crypto, forex, actions et matières premières.
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