Last 30 of May, the European ministers for urban affairs agreed on the setting-up of an Urban Agenda for the EU. This was a major step forward for European integration, which represents the culmination of a work of several years. The Urban Agenda is based on a very simple principle: cities are the home of 3 in 4 Europeans, hence we are all stronger if they are closely involved in the design and implementation of EU policies, together with countries and regions.
The potential that the Urban Agenda brings is immense. Cities, whether small or big, are our closest link to citizens. They are the engines of the European economy and the cradle of EU innovation. But they are also at the forefront of the European response to a number of challenges such as air quality, sustainable mobility, social inclusion or poverty. The Urban Agenda for the EU can help them through better use of EU funding, better legislation and better exchange of the knowledge we already have.
Of course, the European Union has long since supported the urban areas. More recently, faced with new challenges we have restated our support for cities in areas such as promoting integration. I am glad to say that over 2014-2020, half of the European Regional Development Fund envelope will be invested in urban areas. And a number of cities will be directly involved in the design and management of financial resources. But the Urban Agenda takes everything one step further, to help us collaborate better and shape the way we do policies by better including the urban dimension. It is a strategic approach that will allow for proper planning of our policies over the long-term, a framework for working together effectively and collectively. This is to ensure that our cities remain great places to live and work now and for the future.
Naturally, this is a great opportunity for European cities, which we invite to engage to the widest extent of their possibilities. I hold the Urban Agenda to be a top priority of my mandate, with the belief that by working together, by having a constant dialogue not only with the authorities, but as well with all the stakeholders involved, we can overcome challenges and improve the living standard of the European citizens in our cities. As the European Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy I stand by them, in order to help them better exploit the potential of the Urban Agenda. It is my belief that our constructive dialogue helps us take the European Union further into the future.