Eurocities 2016: closing considerations
The session of the Annual General Meeting – which saw the participation of the EU Commissioner for Commerce Cecilia Malmström – held on Friday, the 18th of November, at Palazzo Reale, marked the close of Eurocities 2016, the annual meeting of the supporters of the political platform that joins together 139 in all among the most important European cities of 39 countries, organized by the Municipality of Milan in collaboration with the European Commission and MiCo (Milano Congressi).
The central event involving the General Meeting of Eurocities was held in MiCo’s “Sala Gold” on November 17th, featuring addresses by, among others, the Mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala; Johanna Rolland, current President of Eurocities and Mayor of Nantes; Annalisa Boni, Secretary General of the association; Daniël Termont, Vice-President (and incoming President) of Eurocities and Mayor of Ghent; and the Deputy Secretary General of the European Commission, Jean-Eric Paquet. In addition, particularly appreciated were the statements by Benita Matofska, founder of “The People Who Share” and by Anthony Zacharzewski, head of “The Democratic Society.”
An open and convincing discussion, with over 400 delegates in attendance, which resulted in an open letter to the European leaders to invite them to work together with the cities to redefine Project Europe. Because, as Mayor of Milan Sala explained, “To rethink Europe means to set out again from the communities and from the territories. Not to shut themselves up in little enclosures: on the contrary, to open themselves. The cities are the most exposed to the global challenges of the moment: economic, social and cultural ones. But cities are also the most resilient, and have in themselves the best resources for facing up to these challenges and for creating solutions. If the cities form a network, as has been the case with Eurocities for 30 years, these solutions become global.” This is the reason why it is necessary to listen to the voice of the citizens, underlined Johanna Rolland: “We have no intention of convincing them with 10-point programmes or marketing actions. We need to know their interests and opinions, and to work with them in order to build a stronger, more relevant and legitimate Europe.” So Eurocities is the extraordinary moment for sharing experiences and expertise pertaining to matters of common interest to the communities, from pollution to refugees, from transport to the quality of life. The sharing economy was the major theme of Eurocities 2016, because, as Annalisa Boni said, “Its coming to the fore is changing the way in which cities offer services, work with the citizenry, guarantee skilled jobs, and support businesses and entrepreneurs. The Milan appointment has been the ideal occasion for meeting one another and for discovering how different cities are dealing with this phenomenon … and for learning some lessons to bring home.”