On the occasion of the General Assembly of the Confederation of Small Towns of Europe, the Presidents of the united associations, members of the Confederation, beyond their attachment to European integration, state:
In line with the commitments of the Covenant of Mayors, local authorities, and in particular cities and small towns in the European Union, have a key role in achieving our objectives in digitalisation, the fight against global warming and territorial divides through the promotion and implementation of solutions for sustainable development. The risk is real. Rural, peripheral and small-town Europe are very often the victims of growing territorial and social divides across the continent. We, elected representatives of these communities, find ourselves in the front line when faced with the abandonment of our populations. In partnership with the Regions of Europe, the European institutions and in particular the European Committee of the Regions, we wish to participate in the co-construction of political and pragmatic responses to these concerns.
The emergency is ecological and social, but it is also territorial.
Faced with this situation, the European Union is a necessary partner to enable small European cities to carry out concrete projects for territories on ecological and digital transition, the fight against global warming, or against inequality. We reject the reduction of EU budgets, and in particular the structural funds, namely the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. We are asking for greater visibility for aid and, in this respect, for the Union to adopt an emergency plan to ensure that current policies be extended in the event of delays in the next multiannual financial framework’s approval.
Increasing the budget in response to the Union’s growing missions is one of our priorities. We ask the new priorities of the Member States not be financed on the back of European solidarity policies, which are most visible to our fellow citizens in the territories. They must not be an adjustment variable and cannot compensate for the weakness and inadequacy of the EU budget. The Union must have the means to implement its priorities and own resources are one solution.
European territorial policies are a priority for our cities, especially the smallest ones.
We welcome the European Commission’s choice to make “sustainable development” and “clean” energy the pillars of the next common policies. To take an active role in this collective effort, we demand a clear and applicable definition be adopted for these two terms, so that our small towns can implement the ecological and transition our continent needs, and allow the “Green New Deal” desired by the Commission to take shape.
Hence, we also support the Commission´s proposal for a conference about the future of Europe during the next period. We see it as an extraordinary opportunity to get into an open, structured and transparent dialogue with civil society and citizens. Furthermore, the CTME supports any decentralised approach to get in touch with the people living in our territories.
We call on all associations of elected representatives of Europe’s small and medium-sized cities to join our Confederation in order to continue to influence the European and national institutions of our Member States so that these messages, as well as all those who will help to fight territorial inequalities and divisions, are better heard.