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Commission priorities for the urban environment

Mrs. Ritt Bjerregaard, Commissioner responsible for the environment, presented the Commission's priorities for the improvement of the urban environment at the second "European Conference on Sustainable Cities", held in Lisbon, Portugal, on 6 October 1996.

Mrs. Bjerregaard exp...
Mrs. Ritt Bjerregaard, Commissioner responsible for the environment, presented the Commission's priorities for the improvement of the urban environment at the second "European Conference on Sustainable Cities", held in Lisbon, Portugal, on 6 October 1996.

Mrs. Bjerregaard expressed the belief that "Europe needs a new policy for the urban environment. A policy that has clear targets, a coherent approach and a global outlook". More specifically, she pointed to four main pillars for future action:

- Renewal and reinforcement of the Community's legislative framework and the definition of clear targets for improvement of the urban environment with specified timescales (particular areas for attention include air quality, waste and water);

- Increased use of alternative instruments for environmental management (e.g. levies and charges, environmental liability and negotiated agreements);

- Greater coherence and integration of different Community initiatives, with environmental sustainability being incorporated into all urban activities and investments supported by the Community;

- Renewed emphasis on networking and the exchange of experiences and ideas (as demonstrated in the Sustainable Cities project which aims to support innovation and the exchange of ideas and experience at local level).

In this context, the Commissioner called for the creation of a partnership for action involving all actors, at all levels, in the field of urban development: "As our understanding of the nature and extent of environmental problems has grown, so has recognition of the importance of actions at all levels to achieve their solution. The Community, the Member States, the cities, towns, enterprises and citizens all have their role to play and responsibilities to assume".

The Commissioner also announced plans for the development, in collaboration with Commissioner Monika Wulf-Mathies, of a Commission Communication on urban issues intended to raise the profile of urban sustainability and its fundamental relationship with social and economic issues.
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