EUROCITIES has launched its new campaign, ‘Cities4Europe – Europe for citizens’, which aims to improve citizen engagement in European democracy.
The campaign was launched earlier this week (7 May) in Brussels, Belgium, and seeks to improve citizen engagement in European democracy by working with national and local government, as well as EU institutions, to develop new tools and mechanisms which can involve the general public in policy making.
EUROCITIES represents the local governments of more than 140 of Europe’s largest cities, amounting to some 130 million citizens across 39 countries; of these, 85 cities have joined the Cities4Europe campaign. The organisation believes that engagement with these cities is the best way to encourage members of the public to come forward and participate in matters of governance.
What will the project entail?
The Cities4Europe project began this week and will continue with a series of local events throughout the month, showcasing initiatives that have been successful in citizen engagement, presenting ideas for different ways in which democracy can function, and establish a framework for a positive common future.
The participating cities will contribute to a series of recommendations, to be presented at the next annual conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in November. The launch event included a high-level public debate on the myriad ways to improve citizen engagement in European democracy, as well as a keynote speech delivered by European Commissioner for Environment Karmenu Vella.
What did the stakeholders say?
Vella said that ensuring that people in Europe feel that they are being listened to is vital not only to making sure that the future direction of the EU works for citizens but also in combating a simmering Euroscepticism among some member states.
He stated: “In the European Union, too many people feel that they are not heard. This fuels resentment, very often at different levels…. This has to change, and the role of cities in that change is central. For me, and for the European Commission, our recognition of the importance of the European city has grown and continues to grow, built around the concept of listening. Allowing, and nurturing creative decisions through proposals from local communities is critical.”