This article is part of: EU2016-ezine 04

Urban Agenda for the EU

Urban Agenda for the EU

Photo Bart van Vliet

EU ministers responsible for urban policy adopted the Pact of Amsterdam on 30 May 2016, at a meeting chaired by Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk.

Proposals for improvement

The Pact of Amsterdam states that European cities will be more closely involved in European regulation, access to funds and knowledge exchange, with a focus on the Urban Agenda for the EU, which contains proposals for improving existing EU policies. Issues like air quality, poverty, migrants and refugees, housing, local jobs, the circular economy, climate and transport will be tackled in the initial phase.

Why an Urban Agenda for the EU?

The Netherlands initiated the Pact during its Presidency of the Council of the EU because cities are making more and more difference, both globally and in individual member states. They are becoming ever more closely connected while, at the same time, competition between them is hotting up, particularly at international level. This not only leads to growing differences between regions; it is also forcing cities to innovate. The EU must therefore respond to this development and give urban areas room to develop, thus benefiting the residents of those areas and of surrounding rural areas, and making the EU as a whole more internationally competitive.

Working in partnerships

One new element is the partnerships that will focus on the development of priority themes in the Urban Agenda. Each partnership will involve five European urban regions, five member states, the European Commission, European institutions (such as the European Investment Bank) and other stakeholders – including urban organisations – working together on theme-based proposals for improving existing EU policy. The Pact of Amsterdam stipulates that the outcomes will be used to improve EU legislation, access to funds and knowledge development and exchange.


'Cities are centres of economic growth. The Urban Agenda for the EU can help us benefit from the opportunities these developments bring.' - Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk (photo: Guus Dubbelman/Hollandse Hoogte)


More and more people live and work in urbanised areas. This raises new questions about the vitality, quality of life and accessibility of these regions. (Photo: Tineke Dijkstra)