On 24 and 25 May, EU ministers responsible for urban and spatial development will meet in Leipzig to adopt the Leipzig Charter on Sustainabe European Cities. Apart from the adoption of the charter, a main purpose of the Leipzig meeting will be to “politically emphasise” the importance of cities in the formulation of future EU policies.
- “Integrated urban development”
The Leipzig Charter recommends urban development policy-making that goes beyond traditional public administrations to include the input and involvement of wide range of “economic actors, stakeholders and the general public” at a local, regional and European level.
This “integrated” approach is also considered a “key prerequisite for implementing the EU Sustainable Development Strategy” (EURACTIV LinksDossier), which “calls upon business, NGOs and citizens to become more involved in working for sustainable development.”
The charter declares that an “appropriate framework” for integrated policy-making should be established at national and European level, but it does not propose any specific actions or structures. Rather, it provides general guidelines and recommendations, urging policy-makers to address several focal areas: public spaces, better infrastructures and energy efficiency improvements, and “proactive” innovation and educational policies.
- Focus on “deprived neigbourhoods”
Linking economic development with sustainability, the Leipzig Charter devotes considerable attention to problems such as high unemployment and social exclusion. Though not explicitly mentioned in the charter, the experience of heavy rioting in French cities in 2005 may be one of the reasons why the problems of “high unemployment and social exclusion” are given considerable attention in the charter. Once again, an integrated urban development policy is suggested as a possible remedy, particularly with respect to improving local economies and labor markets, education and training for young people, and affordability and efficiency of urban transport.
- More EU funds
The charter emphasizes that member states should “have the opportunity to use the European structural funds for substantial integrated urban development programs.”