EU Smart Cities Agenda should push for an energy transition with cities and their citizens at the core

The European Parliament’s Resolution on the Urban Dimension of EU Policies adopted by the plenary on the 9 September constitutes a push for an energy transition with cities and their citizens at the core. It takes up key positions in Energy Cities’ position paper on the Commission’s Smart Cities Agenda.

Th resolution postulates that in regard to the key EU principles of subsidiarity, multi-level governance and the partnership principle, the “[…] engagement of the resources and competences of local and regional authorities should be reinforced accordingly”. More importantly, the European Parliament affirms that for cities to attain their full potential as motors of the economic growth, employment, social inclusion and sustainable development, they “need to be more closely associated with the entire European policymaking cycle”. This is in line with Energy Cities’ demand for an EU governance shift towards a stronger inclusion of cities in policy and decision-making.

Moreover, the EP’s resolution also urges the Commission to ensure a better coordination between innovative cities knowledge-sharing and stakeholder engagement platforms such as the Covenant of Mayors so that local actors can better engage with them. Enhancing the value of a hugely-successful initiative like the Covenant of Mayors reflects a crucial acknowledgement of the role played by cities in shaping the energy transition.

The European Parliament also calls for a “greater involvement of towns and cities in the Structural and Investment Funds programmes”, which addresses a key Energy Cities’ demand that the EU should further democratize its technical and project development programmes to improve cities’ access to capacity-building and financing.

In addition, the resolution reads that EU investment policies should be better coordinated and integrated, such as between the EFSI and EU subsidized programmes like Horizon 2020 or Intelligent Energy Europe. This reflects Energy Cities’ suggestion that the EU should increase the readability between different (financial) facilities to enable cities to bridge the investment gap. In this regard, the EP recommends that the Commission establish “urban one-stop shops” in member states with “the aim of providing comprehensive information in particular on different EU initiatives, guidelines and financial possibilities in relation to urban development” . It takes up Energy Cities’ demand to ease the access to EU initiatives for local and regional authorities which are at the forefront of the energy transition.

Drafted by David Donnerer.

Photo: shutterstock © Ditty_about_summer


Publication date

September 21, 2015