Cities of the future: smart, connected and open
EPP/CoR Policy Paper October 2015
Cities of the future: smart, connected and open 78% of the European population live in urban areas. Cities generate 85% of the EU’s GDP and form the backbone of the economy and society. European – and national – polices have major impacts on cities and depend on cities for their implementation. Although many EU policy areas already have an urban dimension, not everything works as it should. An Urban Agenda could help the EU to adopt a more joined-up approach and ensure that strategic planning can cross administrative borders.
TOWARDS AN EU URBAN POLICY On 10 June 2015, in Riga, Latvia, upon the invitation of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the session of the Informal Meeting of Ministers responsible for territorial cohesion and urban matters was held. The meeting, at which the CoR participated, concluded that EU policies have an important role in setting
the right framework within which European urban areas can tackle urban challenges and unlock their growth potential. "Cities are key to Europe's future, and the EU should respond more effectively to the challenges facing our urban areas." Corina Creţu, European Commissioner for Regional Policy
"After 20 years of debate there is still no coherent EU urban strategy. The Committee attaches great importance to the urban dimension in European policies and hopes to see a genuine cross-cutting of the urban dimension in the EU decision-making process." Markku Markkula, President of the CoR
EU FUNDING TO SUPPORT URBAN DEVELOPMENT
"The Committee of the Regions has an important task to ensure stronger political dialogue on urban development plans and cooperation between urban and rural territories in Europe." Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group and CoR rapporteur on the ERDF
More than half of the ERDF resources will be invested in urban areas during the 2014-2020 financial framework, and around 15 billion euro will be directly allocated to integrated strategies for sustainable urban development. What's next for the EU Urban Agenda? The European Commission is working with the Luxembourgish and Dutch presidencies on a consolidated Urban Agenda, which should be agreed the Dutch Presidency in 2016.
WHAT IS A SMART CITY? Developing the EU's cities into smart environments is one of the Union's biggest challenges. The Commission therefore launched a European innovation partnership with a view to developing and integrating energy, transport and information and communications technologies in urban areas. The Commission proposed that this partnership should be led by industry in cooperation with cities.
A smart city is a place where the traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies, for the benefit of its inhabitants and businesses European Commission definition on the Digital Agenda website There are tremendous opportunities for cities to benefit from digital technology, but there are also significant challenges that need to be overcome.
OPPORTUNITIES: Linking and upgrading infrastructures, technologies and services in key urban sectors (transport, buildings, energy, ICT) in a smart way will improve quality of life, competitiveness and sustainability of our cities. This is a strong growth market, estimated globally to be worth â‚Ź1.3 trillion in 2020 - a great export market for European business.
CHALLENGES: Markets are often fragmented, missing out on their full economic potential. Many innovative solutions require new business models and financing solutions for decreasing risk. Since demand for better infrastructures and services is high and still increasing but public budget is under pressure, knowledge needs to be shared effectively and capacities developed.
SMART SPECIALISATION Smart Specialisation strategies were introduced by the EU in 2015 as a way to increase efficiency in research and innovation investments by integrating policy and geographic areas, and stimulating collaboration among them. As Cohesion Policy 2014â€“2020 strongly focuses on research and innovation as a driving force for keeping the EU competitive, Smart Specialisation has been chosen as ex-ante conditionality. The purpose is to improve the quality of Operational Programmes, ensuring a more effective use of EU funds and other public investments in the regions.
"Urban population growth combined with a limitation of resources and space will only be possible based on resource-efficient product lifecycles, from production to end of the lifecycle. For this, smarter resource strategies of reduction, reuse and recycling are needed." Michel Lebrun, former President of the CoR
"In the near future, healthcare will be more individualised, selforganised, provided at a distance and virtual. To keep pace we need innovation, smart cooperation and research from both the private and public sectors." Sirpa Hertell, CoR member
WHAT IS A CONNECTED CITY? Thanks to the innovative use of technology, tomorrow's cities should be able to make knowledge, people, traffic, and energy flow more efficiently. There is considerable potential for integrated approaches to provide significant added value, specifically in the transport, energy and ICT sectors.
DIGITALLY CONNECTED Public Wi-Fi gives citizens the flexibility to access the Internet over a smartphone, tablet, or other device when they are in public spaces within Wi-Fi range. But beyond this basic service, it also allows for data collection from sensors, objects and people. This data can improve the delivery of urban services and city management.
"Digital technologies and internet-based services are profoundly changing the economy and society. Questions need to be asked about how digitalisation can be complemented and made more competitive by "smart services", Helma Kuhn-Theis, CoR rapporteur on the Digital Single Market
STRONGER URBAN TRANSPORT LINKS Roughly 30% of all traffic congestion in urban areas is caused by drivers looking for a parking spot. With cities growing at an estimated 10,000 people per hour, the situation won't get any better unless cities make changes to the way they handle public transport infrastructure, parking and traffic. "More attention should be paid to urban public transport because it has the strongest immediate impact on the environment and quality of life of the largest number of inhabitants." Spyros Spyridon, CoR rapporteur for the White Paper on Transport FREELY FOLLOWING ENERGY SUPPLIES Digital water and electricity meters and smart grid technologies grant city governments with vast amounts of data, which can be essential for developing energy efficiency measures. "End-user prices for European citizens are going up because of the great need for investment. Cities have a great potential for energy saving in connected urban and inter-urban transport, cross-border energy infrastructures, smart public buildings and and using ESI funds for cross-border collaboration on renewable energy." Pascal Mangin, CoR rapporteur for the Energy Union
WHAT IS AN OPEN CITY? Cities and their residents are in the best position to determine the need for specific solutions and measures that should be taken. The EPP Group in the CoR is convinced that smart, urban developments must be based on an explicit demand from cities and their residents. Moreover, the results must provide real added value and improvements to citizens' lives. The cities of the future also need to be inclusive, using technology and innovative solutions to increase social inclusion and combat poverty and deprivation. Within this context, the importance of digital literacy and skills for citizens cannot be underestimated.
The shape of the cities of the future and the quality of life they provide will be hallmarked by economic and social decisions and developments at all levels of political and economic responsibility. CoR 2012 opinion on Future Cities
EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions www.epp.cor.europa.eu
Published on Oct 9, 2015
A policy paper from the EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions on the occasion of OPEN DAYS: European Week of Regions and Cities 2015