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UCEU Assembly discusses climate change, economic crisis.

The global economic crisis and the effort to halt climate change highlight the importance of a sustainable EU Cohesion Policy, the Union of Capitals of European Union (UCEU) stresses in its common positions, adopted during the 49th General Assembly, held in Nicosia, in October.

Capitals of EU countries formed their declaration, noting that they represent almost 37 million European citizens which correspond to approximately 7 % of the total population of the European Union,

The UCEU Assembly, hosted by the 2009 president Nicosia Municipality, declared that the European Union's two most urgent and overriding actual challenges are the global economic crisis and the effort to halt climate change.

In line with the renewed Lisbon Strategy which identified that the cohesion policy could contribute to the achievement of growth and jobs, capital cities of the EU wish to reinforce their determination to take the lead in development towards sustainable growth, employment, and competitiveness within an eco-efficient and inclusive economy and to reiterate their commitment to achieving sustainable and inclusive capital cities.

"Never before has it been more necessary for cities to support the shift in the economy towards knowledge-based activities and the opportunity this offers to capital cities to embrace this role and to host and nurture entrepreneurship, innovation, local employment and community development," the common positions said.

Capital cities, it is added, need to face up to the speed of urbanisation in order to deal with the demographic shifts and the challenges these pose to education, health and mobility, while emphasizing that inclusiveness is a crucial part of urban development, and that respect and tolerance are at the core of the European Social Model.

In this context they maintain that diversity is a key benefit that must form part of a broader integrated approach to tackle social exclusion. They consider it necessary to emphasize that inclusiveness is a crucial part of urban development, services and policies and that an integrated approach must be elaborated at all levels of government that would allow for the social, economic and cultural benefits of development to be shared by all involved including the deprived, excluded and vulnerable groups.

They consider that cities and in particular capital cities are the main settings where opportunity for growth emerges and economic recovery begins, that they reflect not only the brand identity of their nations but of the European Union as a whole,

They must revisit and reiterate the basic premises, that capital cities are above all places to live in and where all groups of population should feel at ease. Bearing in mind that an important part of the body of EU acquis concerning fields such as air quality, noise pollution, road safety, integration of migrants, equal opportunities and discrimination puts a considerable burden on urban areas, the cohesion policy has to take into account the challenges of the growing need for public services, especially public transport and new infrastructure, that economic and demographic changes impose on capital cities.

They must strengthen their leading role as capital cities and advocate new thinking, set new benchmarks and reach solutions for a better tomorrow beyond our own administrative boundaries. In this context, they welcome and encourage the development of strategic frameworks for specific geographic locations such as the EU Mediterranean Policy, the Baltic Sea Strategy, the European Danube Strategy and the broader European Neighbourhood Policy in which capital cities can have an important role and encourage cross-border cooperation between European capitals in the form of concrete result oriented projects.

In conclusion the participants declare that they shall continue to play a key role in the efficient implementation of the Union's Cohesion Policy, aware of the need for full utilization of the potential of every capital, each with their own diverse and often complex circumstances, each with a capacity to offer strong added value both to policy formulation and policy realization,.

UCEU member cities declare finally that they shall continue to work closely with all regional, national and EU institutions and participate in the debate to promote the goals of cohesion and in particular to attain inclusive and sustainable capital cities, seeking more effective coordination, synergies and partnerships.

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Publication:Financial Mirror (Cyprus)
Date:Nov 4, 2009
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