EU looks to regions and cities to lead the way in building a smarter, more sustainable Europe
The European Union is well on track to reach its 2020 energy and climate objectives, according to the findings of its Second Report on the State of the Energy Union. But if it is to meet its climate change commitments, end energy poverty and drive sustainable growth, regions and cities must become smarter by strengthening cooperation and better exploit new technologies.
This was the shared message of a high-level conference and debate Investing in Europe: Building a Coalition of Smart Cities & Regions held in Brussels this week. The event was jointly organised by the European Committee of the Regions and the European Commission’s Energy Union.
“Cities and regions face many challenges, from air pollution to traffic congestion. But every time I talk to a mayor or a regional leader, it strikes me how creative and innovative our cities and regions are in finding solutions for these challenges,” said Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission vice-president responsible for the Energy Union.
“Solutions that are tailor-made, but can nevertheless inspire other cities across Europe to come up with their own solutions. How to become a smart city or region? How to design a good project? How to attract the necessary investments? Very practical, but at the same time very real questions for many local authorities.”
Referring to growing criticism directed at the European Union, president Markku Markkula contended that rolling-out the Energy Union and creating smarter cities and regions would demonstrate the benefits the EU brings to its citizens.
“The EU has set down the right path to deliver a more sustainable future but it relies on regions and cities to deliver. The progress in energy efficiency, cutting CO2 emissions and using renewables is encouraging but far more needs to be done,” he said.
“We need to plug the €250bn investment gap by directing EU funds and private investment towards innovation, new technologies and new industries. Every EU region and city must share the responsibility by developing their own smart strategies, co-operating together, working with the private sector and using all funds available to build a better future.”
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