Photo: Velislav Nikolov (EU2018BG)
European cities, where over 70% of the population live, face new challenges related to migratory pressures, worsening urban infrastructure, the environment and high unemployment. The common problems at the European level require common solutions for the development of cities and regions, representatives of the Urban Development Working Group (UDG) agreed at their meeting on 1 March 2018 in Sofia.
The meeting focused on specific proposals and measures to address the challenges facing cities, as well as the progress of the twelve partnerships on priority themes that are part of the Urban Agenda for the EU. The partnerships involve representatives of Member States, city authorities, the European Commission, Managing Authorities for Operational Programmes, the EIB, experts, NGOs and representatives of the private sector.
The participants united around the idea of setting up a special task force to coordinate and manage the implementation of the 12 priority themes and partnerships. Specific proposals on the format, composition and way of organising the work of the working group as well as the cooperation of the Member States in it were discussed at the meeting.
The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, whose scope of competences include territorial cohesion and urban policy.
The Urban Agenda for the EU was launched in May 2016 with the Pact of Amsterdam. Twelve priority themes are set out in this document, which lays the foundation for the actual implementation of an urban development policy at European level. Bulgaria has participated in four of the priority themes through the participation of three Bulgarian cities - Sofia (under the theme "Digital Transition"), Burgas (under the theme "Urban Mobility") and Gabrovo (under the theme "Innovative Public Procurement"), as well as the Ministry of Environment and Water (under the theme "Climate Adaptation"). The remaining eight partnerships are in the fields of air quality; housing policy; social inclusion of migrants and refugees; urban poverty; circular economy; jobs and skills in the local economy; energy transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency; and sustainable land use and nature-based solutions.
At the end of 2018, the first results of the four pilot partnerships launched within the Urban Agenda for the EU are expected to be presented, and their achievements can be used to work on other priority themes and partnerships.