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Strengthening urban dimension of regional policy

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banner More than two-thirds of Europeans live in cities, setting the trend globally and emphasizing the need for urban development to be at the heart of EU political discussions. The urban dimension is now a central element in the reformed EU Cohesion Policy and it is expected that 50% of European Regional Development Fund investments for 2014-2020 will be made in cities and urban areas.

On 17 and 18 February, Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn will bring together key players in the policies aimed to make Europe's cities 'smarter', 'greener' and 'more inclusive'. The forum Cities of Tomorrow: Investing in Europe aims to stimulate a debate at European level on how to strengthen the urban dimension in EU policymaking and to increase recognition of the key role cities play in implementing policies set at all governance levels.

The mayors of 16 member state capital cities* are expected to join the calls for more effective responses to urban challenges under the umbrella of an EU urban agenda. UN Habitat will also lead the call for this agenda as exporting an EU urban model is considered an effective way of addressing global challenges.

*Rome, Vienna, Amsterdam, Sofia, Zagreb, Warsaw, Bratislava, Bucharest, Nicosia, Riga, Helsinki, Ljubljana, Lisbon, Tallinn, Athens, Valletta

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Background

Because of their potential and their front line position, cities have a key role to play in addressing global challenges and implementing the Europe 2020 strategy. This forum will debate the issues surrounding a prospective EU Urban Agenda, including how it could facilitate the participation of cities in EU policy development and implementation.

Commissioner Hahn was given responsibility for urban policy in 2012 in recognition of the growing importance of cities as key actors for European development. He is actively seeking better synergy and consistency between the urban-related initiatives of different EU policies, to improve their coordination and favour integrated approaches.

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The Forum will open on 17 February with a ‘family photo’ with Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Capital City Mayors, BERLAYMONT/outside Hallstein room, followed by a meeting between Commissioner Johannes Hahn meets EU Capital City Mayors, BERLAYMONT/Hallstein room (closed event, but footage can be taken at the opening).

There will be a joint press conference at 13h15 with Commissioner Hahn and Joan Clos, UN Habitat (CHARLEMAGNE/Room Mansholt).

A plenary session at 14h will feature opening addresses by Commissioner Hahn and ministers representing the Greek and Italian EU Presidencies.

An IP was made available on 14 February and there will be a speech on 17 February.

More information

Full programme and issues paper on Cities of Tomorrow: Investing in Europe forum website
Urban stock shots available
EU: Regional and Urban Policy: Cities of Tomorrow 2014
EU: Urban Development 2012

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Development

Kazakh president sets out five priorities for #Kazakhstan’s 'Third Stage of Modernization' 

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In his annual address to the nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, announced five main priorities as part of what he described as “Kazakhstan’s third stage of modernization”. The priorities are aimed at ensuring economic growth and supporting the country to become one of the top 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050.

The five priorities are: Acceleration of technological modernization of the economy, improved business environment, macroeconomic stability, improved quality of human capital and institutional reforms, including improved security and more action to tackle corruption.

President Nazarbayev said in his annual address: “I am setting the task of ensuring the implementation of the Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan. It is necessary to create a new model of economic growth that will ensure the country's global competitiveness.”

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He added: “This modernization is not a plan to combat current global challenges, but a reliable bridge to the future, to meet the objectives of Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy. It will be carried out on the basis of the 100 Concrete Steps Plan of the Nation.”

The Head of State also instructed the Government to developa package of measures for the technological re-equipment of basic industries by 2025.

The annual address followed a special announcement given by the President last week, in which he set out bold plansto increase the powers of parliament. President Nazarbayev stated that these constitutional reforms are aimed at furthering the democratic development of Kazakhstan, as the Government will be accountable to parliament.

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President Nursultan Nazarbayev has proposed a constitutional reform aimed at furthering the democratic development of Kazakhstan. During a special televised address to the nation on 25 January, the President announced a number of functions that would be transferred either to the Government or Parliament. Public discussions on the proposed constitutional reforms will take place for the next month, concluding on 26 February. After this, the reforms will be presented to Parliament.