Cities are key to achieving the EU 2020 goals: 72% percent of the European population live in cities, cities are the engines of economic growth and innovation, but cities are also facing great challenges concerning sustainable transport, environment and inclusion. Because of the important role of cities, EU policies and initiatives have a strong impact on cities. At the same time, the contribution of cities is crucial in achieving EU objectives including the priorities of the Juncker Commission.
However, when taking a closer look at the Juncker Priorities, the conclusion is clear: the role of cities in the realisation of the priorities is not explicitly addressed. Here lies an important task for cities and their stakeholders. There is a need for all urban actors – local authorities, regions, national governments and the European Commission – to make the urban dimension of the Juncker Priorities more explicit and link them to specific urban issues, in order to better identify how cities can contribute to these priorities. With this aim the city of Amsterdam has commissioned a Quick Scan on the urban dimension of the Juncker Priorities and the role of EU capital cities regarding the EU Urban Agenda.
The Quick Scan focuses on capital cities for several reasons. First, capital cities are of great importance for economic growth and sustainable development in Europe. Even more important is the responsibility of capital cities to represent the interests of other national cities in the international arena. In addition, capital cities can catalyse economic, social and sustainable development because of their administrative, economic and symbolic power within their national and international contexts.
Furthermore, due to their geographical distribution and differences in size they reflect the wide variety of cities within the EU: ranging from big cities like London (8.6 million inhabitants) to small- and mediumsized cities like Valetta (7,000 inhabitants).