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The Pact of Amsterdam sets the new paradigm in the EU

The key role of the Urban Partnership

Brussels, 10 June 2016 | Published in Urban, Future of the EU & Housing

After the Bristol Accord in 2005, the Leipzig Charter in 2007, the Declaration of Toledo in 2010, the European Union member states have agreed on a new strategic document aiming at improving the relationship with the EU and the urban areas. In the Pact of Amsterdam, Ministers in charge of Urban Policies indeed agreed to “establish a more effective integrated and coordinated approach to EU policies and legislation with a potential impact on Urban Areas and also to contribute to territorial cohesion by reducing the socioeconomic gaps observed in urban areas and regions”.

Sustainable development of cities and regions has been important focus on the European Union policies over last few decades. Recently, the EU has introduced its Urban Agenda whose aim is to influence on urban governance dynamics in a way which would enable better, more targeted and efficient delivery of EU policies; to remove obstacles in EU policies in order to enable cities to work in a more systematic and coherent way. The EU Urban Agenda has no legal basis, however it is expected to inform broad objectives of the EU regulations in various policy areas. It was officially launched through the Pact of Amsterdam in May 2016.

Development and implementation of the EU’s New Urban Agenda takes place through Partnerships, currently run in the form of pilot phase. The Partnerships are loosely defined entities that include members of the European Commission, representatives of cities, scholars and NGOs. Three working themes guide the work of the Partnerships. These are:

1. Better regulation: how can the urban dimension in EU and national policies be strengthened and how to mobilize cities in the policy design and implementation?

2. Better use of financial instruments: how can existing EU financial instruments better be used, how can be the EU regulatory framework improved for the future?

3. Better knowledge exchange: this will look at current knowledge exchange networks and determine if and how improvements can be made.

Housing Europe is part of the EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Housing. Its objective is to help in ensuring an adequate supply of good quality affordable housing across European Member States. The main focus is the exchange of knowledge and best practices in the field of housing as well as the provision of evidence to policy-making in the field of housing.

The Partnership is designed to last three years. During this lifespan, the key early output is this Action Plan. The Action Plan will identify a range of issues that prohibit achieving the objective of the Partnership in three thematic areas defined above. It reflects both structural and systemic issues relating to housing provision in Europe, e.g. construction standards for buildings; and these, which are currently most pressing such as the migration and the refugee crisis and their impact on housing provision.