The rise of Euroscepticism and populism has created a growing sense of anxiety among many Europeans. The mayors of major cities in Europe met in Brussels with EU and national leaders to set out the urgent need for changing the way politics is done.
Mayors and politicians representing 36 cities from 15 countries attended the summit.
Daniël Termont, mayor of Ghent and EUROCITIES president, said:
As Europe’s leaders prepare to mark 60 years since the Treaty of Rome, we find ourselves ata turning point in Europe. Let’s see this as an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Europe’s core values of respect, freedom, democracy and equality. And most of all, let’s make this about the people that live in Europe. By working with cities, the EU institutions can find new ways to engage citizens and be inspired by our experience on the ground.
The message from cities is loud and clear: a renewed Europe needs genuine partnership between the cities and their citizens, EU institutions and member states. This is the only way to overcome the disconnect between Europe and its citizens.
“We must not sleepwalk into another Brexit vote.”
The ‘Mayors summit on the future of Europe’, organised by EUROCITIES, gathered high level European, national and city leaders. The summit follows on from the publication of our open letter on ‘rethinking Europe’ in which mayors urged the EU and member states to refocus the debate on Europe’s future and design a new governance model from the bottom up.
Karin Wanngård, mayor of Stockholm and EUROCITIES vice president, told EU and national leaders:
Despite recent setbacks, we believe in a positive future for the EU. But the potential of Europe’s cities to deliver on that future has so far remained untapped. We can help make the EU stronger and more legitimate. So let’s unite in our commitment to build the Europe our citizens deserve.
As host of the summit, Markku Markkula, president of the Committee of the Regions said:
This mayors summit takes place at a crucial time for Europe. We must listen better and engage more with people on the ground so we can move from talk to action. That’s why the European Committee of the Regions’ members are holding ‘Reflecting on Europe’ town hall debates in 75 regions and cities throughout 2017.
At the summit on 7 March, Daniël Termont confirmed cities commitment to strengthening democracy initiatives at local level by taking action in the coming months.