Advocating interests of cities in the EU policy context
The EUROCITIES network was established already in 1986 and is the largest network of big European cities with more than 250,000 inhabitants. At the moment, over 140 members including Vienna as well as in excess of 45 partner cities co-operate in the context of the EUROCITES platform, thereby representing 130 million residents across 39 countries. It is the goal of this network to strengthen the positioning and representation of cities at the European level. Further objectives include the exchange of experience and the development of common strategies and projects.
Discussion forums were established to cover thematic focuses of central importance for cities. These include:
- Information and communication technologies
- Social affairs
- Economic development
Solutions to specific problems are developed in working groups. Vienna is represented in all forums and nearly all working groups as well as in the superordinate Executive Committee. The Municipal Department for European Affairs (MA 27) co-ordinates the work of the staff participating on behalf of the City of Vienna, while the Vienna Liaison Office (Vienna House) in Brussels represents the Austrian capital in the Executive Committee.
Comprehensive information about the EUROCITIES platform or its current activities can be found on the webpage of Municipal Department 27 at www.wien.gv.at/wirtschaft/eu-strategie/index.html (in German) or directly on the EUROCITIES website at https://eurocities.eu/.
EUROCITIES and Vienna
Vienna has been part of the EUROCITIES community since 1995. In 2001, Vienna was for the first time voted into the Executive Committee, which is the supreme body of the network. Currently, Vienna chairs the Working Groups “European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and Enlargement”, “Public Services and Public Procurement“ and “Housing”. Around 40 Viennese experts are active on behalf of EUROCITIES and engage in the exchange of information at a European level.
Housing and Vienna
Housing is an issue of particular importance for Vienna, especially because the history of affordable housing goes back a full century in the Austrian capital, resulting in a pioneering role in this category. The “Housing” Working Group maintains a constant exchange of information with many other working groups, as the matter of housing overall does not only comprise the provision of living space in the broadest sense, but also includes such reference factors as sustainability, energy, the environment, mobility and all matters relating to financing.
Since its establishment in 2008, the “Housing” Working Group above all has brought many projects to the attention of the European Union. In 2020, the European Commission published its strategy for a “renovation wave” to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in Europe. The renovation quota is to be at least doubled over the coming decade, thereby improving the quality of life of citizens while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe and promoting digitalisation. A “New European Bauhaus” is moreover to pool the contributions of science, architecture, design, art, planning and civil society. In the context of this process, the “Housing” Working Group of EUROCITIES specifically champions a socially balanced approach so that nobody will be disadvantaged or left behind.
Its strong networking activities render the EUROCITIES platform a valuable contributor and influential player in similar future-oriented activities across the entire continent and beyond. The “Housing” Working Group lends its expertise, its experience based on a long-standing exchange of best practices and its profound commitment to the projects of the European Commission.
The latest big success in the context of the EUROCITIES structure led to the adoption by majority of the draft report on “Access to Decent and Affordable Housing for All”, submitted by the Dutch rapporteur Kim van Sparrentak, at the Plenary Session of the European Parliament. With this statement, the EU declares its willingness to step up its contributions to investment in affordable, decent and sustainable housing, in this way supporting the housing sector of cities and municipalities. The text of the report as adopted can be found at https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-0020_EN.html.