Last updated: 20 Dec 2021
On the 26th November, the Slovenian Presidency secured a landmark agreement between EU Ministers responsible for Urban Development in the form of the Ljubljana Agreement to commit to the continuation of the Urban Agenda for the EU.

Attending the meeting, European Commissioner for cohesion and reforms, Elisa Ferreira underlined the need move urban policies towards promoting sustainable lifestyles, a key objective of the Green Deal, that the EU Structural & Investment funds will prioritise in the 2021-27 period.  She also pointed to the importance of future projects embracing urban-rural linkages and inter-dependencies between urban centres and their surrounding rural peripheries in a sustainable way. The Urban Agenda is important building block in creating synergy between Cohesion funds and Recovery Plans as the principle of proximity and territoriality has never been so important in the interest of our citizens. 
What does this agreement mean for local government?

  • The Urban Agenda for the EU was launched in 2016 with the Pact of Amsterdam. It was the start of a completely new way of working on urban issues whereby cities of all sizes, ministries and European Commission’s directorate general gather together in thematic partnerships to discuss concrete issues such as public procurement, climate adaptation, digital transition or migrants integration.
  • The Ljubljana Agreement means that the Member States, the European Commission and local and regional government commit to working on a new work programme for the Urban Agenda. 
  • Importantly for UDiTE, the role of smaller and medium sized cities is clearly stated with the willingness to involve them in the thematic partnerships, and to better communicate on the achievements of the urban agenda. It is also worth noting that the need for national associations of municipalities and regions in supporting municipalities to participate in the thematic partnerships is now recognised. 

In 2022, the municipalities and regions will have to answer a call for interest to join future partnerships. The Commission will bring some dedicated support such as expertise or communication means. Member States in particular agree to bring additional financial or capacity to support the participation of smaller and medium sized municipalities in the partnerships. A number of interesting new themes have been also been added to the Agenda including :  Cities of equalities; urban food; greening cities; sustainable tourism.

With the French Presidency of the EU starting on 1st January 2022, member states have agreed to launch two new partnerships on greening cities and sustainable tourism. First, an ex-ante assessment will be carried to better define the scope, relevance of the timeline and identify key stakeholders and EU policies relevant for these two themes. Then (mid or end 2022) a call for interest should be launched to select the cities who will join thematic partnerships. For the next themes (cities of equality and urban food), the process should be launched in 2023. Watch this space.