Pact of Amsterdam: Urban Agenda for the EU

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EU Member States met on 30 May to sign the Pact of Amsterdam and establish the Urban Agenda for the EU.

Through the Urban Agenda for the EU Member States, cities, European institutions and other stakeholders will be working together for a sustainable, socially inclusive, innovative and economically powerful Europe. The Urban Agenda for the EU is a new working method to ensure maximum utilisation of the growth potential of cities and to successfully tackle social challenges. It aims to promote cooperation between Member States, cities, the European Commission and other stakeholders, in order to stimulate growth, liveability and innovation in the cities of Europe.

Part of this new approach is the development of a range of European partnerships with the objective of: Promoting the involvement of cities in EU policy making and the development, implementation and evaluation of more ´urban friendly´ European legislation(‘Better Regulation’). Ensuring better access to and utilisation of European funds. Improving the European urban knowledge base and stimulating the sharing of best practices and cooperation between cities.

Why an Urban Agenda for the EU?

International research has revealed that cities are of huge importance to Europe. They are the powerhouses of economic growth, innovation and employment. 72% of all Europeans live in cities. This percentage is expected to rise to 80 by 2050. Complex challenges related to the environment, transport and social cohesion are increasingly negatively impacting quality of life in cities. The Urban Agenda for the EU aims to address these challenges. To fully exploit the potential of cities, European policies and rules should be more in line with local practice in cities. This does not entail new or more competences for the European Union, but a better working method, focused on cooperation between Member States, cities, European institutions and other stakeholders.


The new approach of the Urban Agenda for the EU includes the development of a range of European partnerships. Within these partnerships, the European Commission, Member States and European cities will work together to ensure that the urban dimension is strengthened in EU policies. Obviously, principles of subsidiarity and proportionality should be taken into account.

The partnerships will focus on the twelve priority themes of the Urban Agenda for the EU that have been agreed on. Four pilot partnerships already started with support of the Dutch EU Presidency.

Four (pilot) partnerships

1. Air Quality, coordinated by the Netherlands (Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment).

2. Housing, coordinated by Slovakia (Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development).

3. Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees, coordinated by the city of Amsterdam (NL) and the European Commission (DG Home).

4. Urban Poverty, coordinated by Belgium (Federal Urban Policy) and France (Commissariat General a L’ Egalité des Territories).

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