The EU in Dutch hands: A semester of opportunities!


Since January, the Netherlands are holding the six-months EU presidency as part of a rotating system amongst the EU member states. The Dutch agenda will be packed when it comes to climate and energy policies. Here is what cities can expect:

Following-up on the COP21 process and making progress on reforming the EU Emissions Trading scheme are amongst the priorities set by the Dutch presidents. Already during the climate summit, by committing to achieve 100% renewables by 2050, thousands of local leaders have shown that they go further than their national governments. However, this bold objective can only be reached if cities and their citizens have a say on climate and energy matters. Several Dutch cities such as our members Utrecht or Delft are already setting the example: in control of their energy policies, both local authorities decided to involve the citizens to take collective action towards a decarbonised future. A serious implementation plan of the Paris agreement, driven in Europe by the Netherlands, can pave the way for cities to fully play their role in achieving the EU climate targets.

Delft (c)Ivanov – www.shutterstock.com

Utrecht (c)Hans Engbers-www.shutterstock.com

The EU’s redesign of the electricity market will be another opportunity for cities to voice their interests and for the Dutch Presidency to make a real difference. Ideally, this new legislation should open up the European energy market. It should allow the ’consumers’ to turn into active stakeholders, facilitate investments and improve market access for small energy producers. Our member city Pamplona shows the way forward in this field: its energy cooperative ’Som Energia’ with the fastest growing membership in Europe is an economic success that inspired several other European cities.

EU urban policies designed for and by cities

Urban development will be another focus during the Dutch presidency, which put the EU urban agenda on its to-do-list. “The Agenda’s aim is to better align EU policy and legislation with urban practices so that cities can contribute more to maximising the potential for jobs and growth in Europe”. In that framework, the European Commission and the Dutch government promised a better access for cities to European funds and programs (ERDF, Urban Innovative Action, …) and a new interface for exchange on good practices. To make sure the EU legislation matches the cities’ needs, the EU also plans to create strategic partnerships between the EU level, national administrations, the cities, experts and local associations. 
The Urban Agenda project will cover a large number of topics (from growth to the inclusion of migrants, housing, etc…). Energy Cities will keep a close eye on everything related to the local energy transition.

The so-called Pact of Amsterdam will define the next steps of the EU urban agenda. It is an agreement that aims at improving the coordination of urban related topics by involving cities in EU policy-making. The fact that Member States, Cities, the European Commission and other stakeholders cooperate in this process makes this a truly multi-level governance approach. The Pact is meant to be adopted on May 30th. New strategic partnerships encouraging a more inclusive governance at the local level will be signed on this occasion.

Time for progress is short: On July 1st, The Netherlands will hand the EU Presidency over to Slovakia.

Article prepared by Rémi Collombet-Gourdon

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Author

Miriam Eisermann

Publication date

January 26, 2016