At times when refugee movements and migration are posing a major test for the European integration process, it is especially the cities in the most affected Member States which face extraordinary challenges. Cities are places of integration and identification, this was true long before the growing influx of refugees. Where can the internal cohesion of Europe be encouraged, if not in the cities?
Around seventy percent of the regulations set out under European law affect the local authorities. Today’s European policy is local policy in many areas. Cities as the tier of government closest to the citizens are both recipients and deliverers of European policies to and from the citizens. Cities create an environment in which citizens become more responsive to many issues, this is also true when it comes to European topics. It is in cities where many issues, European topics among them, become tangible for the citizens.
As a result, the local authorities want to play a role in the shaping of Europe and thus take their responsibility towards the success of the European integration process seriously. The Association of German Cities therefore welcomes the European Commission’s initiative of dedicating greater attention to cities within the European Union.
The variety of relationships indicates that most of the political objectives of the European Union could not be put into effect without the local authorities, which is why they must be recognised as full partners within the European Union. Europe can only come to fruition based on partnership.
The project of an urban agenda for the European Union is an important step towards a real partnership with the local authorities.