16 January 2020
Influencing innovation across Europe
Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence and Vice President of EUROCITIES, recently shared his thoughts on the EU's cohesion policy with the new European Commissioner for cohesion and reforms, Elisa Ferreira.
by Alex Godson
There are many benefits to city and European level cooperation. “In Florence,” says Dario Nardella, the cohesion policy funds are used, for example, “in suburbs and in the historical centre to totally renew the urban light system with a new light network, reducing pollution and making a more efficient system also for urban security in our public spaces.”
Catch more from Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence, in this video about how Florence and other Italian cities have made use of the EU’s cohesion policy to bring innovation into their public transport systems and create new green places for citizens.
The PON Metro (National Operational Program Metropolitan Cities 2014-2020), provides cohesion funds to a total of 14 Italian cities towards sustainable urban development.
Some of the developments that PON Metro has brought to Florence include:
The creation of a new digital map of the city’s green areas, replete with plans to plant 15,000 new trees
The creation of a new bike path
The creation of a smart city control centre which will allow real-time responses on all the various smart functions of the city, such as traffic management, parking availability and the position of all of the city’s busses
Speaking at a meeting of the Cohesion Alliance, in his capacity as vice president of EUROCITIES, Nardella put views directly to European Commissioner Elisa Ferreira who is responsible for cohesion and reforms.
“As a representative of EUROCITIES, I underlined that cities and mayors would like to participate in a concrete and active way in the decision making process. Not only in cohesion policy, but also in the other European sectors.“
The meeting, which took place last week amidst ongoing discussions on the EU budget and while details, particularly on funding, are still being hashed out regards the European Green Deal, was an opportunity to highlight the need for a strong urban dimension in future European level decisions.
For cities, he pointed out, this involves earmarking the allocation for sustainable urban development in the European Regional Development Fund and increasing this amount to 10%.
“Cities and mayors would like to participate in a concrete and active way”
One of the existing mechanisms for bringing the urban dimension into the centre of European decision making, has been the Urban Agenda for the EU, which Nardella says has been “the main instrument that we already experimented [with] to use the European budget for urban sustainable development.”
In the post 2020 environment, Nardella put to the Commissioner that cohesion policy must introduce a mechanism that incorporates the outcomes of the urban agenda partnerships into the European and national programmes.
He also pointed out that cities should be considered key partners by the European Commission in its ambitions to achieve a carbon neutral Europe by 2050. Without cities on board it will be very hard to achieve these aims.
“We believe in a multilevel governance,” said Nardella. “Multilevel governance means that we must work together: European Commission, regions and local governments, cities. Without the multilevel governance we can’t reach important deals like the Green Deal. If we want to achieve this revolutionary objective in terms to cut totally carbon emissions by 2050 we must work together and the European Commission must involve mayors and cities at the beginning of the decision making process.”
“We must work together: European Commission, regions and local governments, cities.”
For her part, Commissioner Ferreira responded positively to Mr Nardella’s comments, and reassured the audience that she would protect cohesion policy after 2020 to support the transition to a digital, sustainable and gender balanced economy, and that more attention would be given to the crucial role of regions and cities in shaping and delivering EU priorities.
Interview with Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence
Dario Nardella meeting with Commissioner Elisa Ferreira
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