Approximately 75% of people in Europe live and work in urban areas. Cities produce about 80% of greenhouse gas emissions and account for the majority of energy consumption in Europe. Promoting sustainable practices requires action and sharing good practice at local level with cities being the key to green growth, social inclusion and climate action. In order to promote these three policy priorities, EUROCITIES initiates and implements various activities which aim at shaping EU policies on the one hand and facilitating information sharing and enhancing the cooperation between local governments on the other hand.
EUROCITIES was founded in 1986 by the mayors of Barcelona, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Lyon, Milan and Rotterdam. Today, the network comprises of policy makers from local governments of 130 member cities, 40 partner cities as well as associated partners in industry from across Europe. The network is managed by an elected executive committee and operates an office in Brussels with a permanent staff of over 30. The network’s members can participate in six thematic forums which work regularly on the monitoring of developments in focus policy areas, such as culture, economy, environment, or knowledge society, mobility, and social affairs. For specific tasks, such as preparing a policy paper or carrying out a project, working groups are set up. Furthermore, the network participates in and coordinates EU-funded projects. A broad range of policy issues are addressed through the work of EUROCITIES, e.g. air quality, energy efficiency, waste and water in the forum “environment” and different aspects of sustainable transport in the forum “mobility”. The network is financed by membership and partnership fees as well as third party project funding and grants.
EUROCITIES coordinates the lobbying work of the member cities and creates a platform for sharing expertise between them. Through close cooperation with EU institutions and the active participation in European initiatives, such as European Mobility Week, the role that cities and local governments play for sustainable development is strengthened. Furthermore, events, like the annual conference, and the yearly “EUROCITIES award”, which recognises outstanding projects or practices of member cities, allow members to show best-practices and improve their city profile.
Over the almost 30 years since EUROCITIES came into existence, it has evolved into a mature network with a constantly growing number of members and increasingly formalised and consolidated ways of management and working. It thus qualifies for an estimated level 9 on the generic maturity scale, GML. The structure, activities and thematic focuses have continuously been developed and adapted to the changing EU institutions and policies. Rather than scaling up, the future challenge of the network is to further strengthen the influence cities have at EU-level, while raising awareness of the crucial role city governments play in smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.