At their informal EU meeting today, European building ministers signed the "Leipzig Charter". The Charter will strengthen inner cities. Speaking in Leipzig today, the German EU Council President, Wolfgang Tiefensee, stated:
"Living in cities is becoming increasingly popular. This is a positive development, and one that we have to boost. Families are returning from the urban fringe and rural hinterland to the inner cities. Urbanity is becoming a hallmark of quality. Industrial sites are being put to new uses. Living and working on what used to be derelict industrial sites is becoming attractive. In short: Europe’s cities are currently experiencing a renaissance, and policymakers have to shape this renaissance. It will usher in a new phase of urban development. The cities of Europe face major challenges."
With the "Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities", the 27 ministers responsible for urban development in the EU Member States have, for the first time, agreed on common principles and strategies for urban development policy. "We want to create a foundation for a new urban policy in Europe. That is why we need a model of integrated urban development. It has to take public participation in urban planning into account and improve the coordination of public and private sector investment for and in cities", said Mr Tiefensee. The Council President went on to say: "We have to strengthen inner cities, in particular. In Europe, cities are the engines of social and economic development. That is why, in the future, urban development will have to play a more important role in European policies. Urban development policy not only determines whether people can live in a good social environment. It also enables people to experience European integration at first hand."
He said that the Leipzig Charter would create the foundations for a new urban policy in Europe and reformulate the idea of the European city. "Over 60 percent of the European population live in urban areas with more than 50,000 inhabitants. The EU Member States have to act now if they are to be able to tackle the impact of demographic change, climate change and global economic structural change. We have to join forces to do something about onesidedness and monotony in urban development. The era of individually optimized residential and business areas, oversized shopping centres and large traffic spaces is over. There must be a greater mixture of areas for living, working and leisure in cities. This can make cities more exciting, vibrant and socially stable", said Mr Tiefensee.
The Minister said that one of the challenges faced by European cities was youth unemployment. "With an unemployment rate among young people under 25 years of age of 18.6 %, cities have to compensate for enormous fluctuations. Here, urban development policy also has to offer solutions." The Minister said that it was imperative to tackle social exclusion and isolation in individual neighbourhoods. "Longterm and stable economic growth will not be possible unless whole cities remain socially balanced and stable", said Mr Tiefensee. Policymakers must not tolerate downward spirals and the stigmatization of individual neighbourhoods. "In particular, we have to devote even more attention to the educational requirements of children and young people in these urban areas. If over one half of young people in these deprived neighbourhoods leave school without any qualifications, there are bound to be problems in the future. Europe has to involve everyone”, said the Council President.
Please find information on the "Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities" on www.eu2007.de.