Video message by Commissioner Elisa Ferreira for the closing ceremony of the URBACT City Festival 2022

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Dear colleagues,

Cities are on the forefront of our ambitions for the future: a modern, innovative, digital economy; a greener lifestyle, based on renewable energy, recycling, deep renovation; and a new localism, building a new sense of place.

For all of these ambitions, and more, Europe’s cities are the testing grounds, and the motor of the future.

And if Europe’s cities are the testing grounds and laboratory of the future, then URBACT is what brings the researchers and practitioners together to share their experiences, their knowledge, build expertise and disseminate knowledges and good practices.

So congratulations to you all, on this fourth URBACT programme. URBACT has a long and distinguished history of working with cities: capacity building, networking, developing solutions to their challenges. Since its creation, URBACT has brought together almost 1.000 cities of all sizes from every country of the European Union and from its partner countries as well. And in the coming years URBACT will continue to support European cities, particularly in 3 key ways.

First, cohesion policy helps to deepen local roots. The territorial dimension is reinforced with the new cohesion policy objective “A Europe closer to citizens” – that’s how we called it – and earmarking of 8% of the national Regional Fund allocation to local urban strategies developed by local people on the basis of local needs.

This new focus is key to sustainable living in the future, and URBACT can help cities make full and expert use of this tool, not just within cities, but as cities collaborate among themselves and with surrounding areas, develop urban-rural linkages and become poles of development for the wider regions.

Second, URBACT is complemented by the European Urban Initiative, which will support innovative actions, and develop transferable, and scalable, innovative solutions, to the challenges facing urban areas.

We trust you will work productively with this initiative, developing synergies and building the capacity and competences of cities.

Third, URBACT can help build capacity, as we face the crises of the coming years. In the last 2 years or so, Cohesion policy has responded with emergency support for floods and fires, for the health impacts of Covid, for the start of the economic recovery, and to support those welcoming refugees fleeing the war, and the unprovoked Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Cities have been key to the cohesion policy response to all these crises. And URBACT has a key role to play, in building experience and capacity, as we cope with these crises – and crises that will come in the future.

I will conclude by saying, that for all these situations, from crises, to green and digital future, we depend on Europe’s cities, large and small. And we depend on the capacity of Europe’s cities, large and small to become corridors of growth for the wider surrounding areas.

So for all cities, we need the twin tools, of URBACT, and the European Urban Initiative.

My thanks, in particular, to the French Authorities, to the URBACT secretariat, and to all those who have contributed to URBACT’s success over the years.

I look forward to our work together, in the coming months and years, and I look forward to seeing you in Turin, at the next edition of the cities forum.

Thank you very much and good work!

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