European Capitals for EU Enlargement
 
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CONFERENCES OF THE CAPITAL CITIES FOR EU ENLARGEMENT


Since April 2001, the Capital Cities of the EU candidate countries have been together with Berlin and Vienna dealing with the issues of the forthcoming EU enlargement and the role of the Cities in an enlarged European Union. In order to provide a platform for these discussions, there have been biannual conferences of the Mayors under the title of "Capital Cities for EU Enlargement".

So far these conferences have been held in Warsaw, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Budapest, Riga and Ljubljana

1st Conference, Warsaw, 20 April 2001
The Conference dealt with following questions: cooperation and position between the city and the state authorities in the process of EU enlargement, advantages and weaknesses in the EU membership for the capital cities and its citizens and problems in development. In the course of the Conference mayors adopted Joint declaration in which they stated that by playing an active role in various cooperation networks capitals will promote the urban agenda and strengthen the overall capacity of the enlarged Union to successfully compete in the globalised, network oriented world economy.

2nd Conference, Vienna, 2 July 2001
The participants discussed on Interreg III, economical perspectives of the capital cities, e-government and other issues. The Mayors adopted the Vienna Declaration in which the EU was called upon to provide the sufficient funding for the implementation of the acquis communitaire with special regard to transport, environment and the revitalisation of urban areas. It was also agreed to promote and ensure a bilateral and multilateral exchange of experiences in the interest of a successful integration process and that joint Conference of Mayors will be held regularly to continue an active dialogue between European cities and to deepen the objective discussion basis.

3rd Conference, 8 March 2002
"The role of Capital Cities in the information process with regard to EU Enlargement" In the Joint Declaration it was concluded that as the political, business and cultural centres of their countries, capital cities play a vital role in the information process. It is therefore essential for national governments to support capital cities in their efforts to provide information about EU and about the challenges of the EU membership. Cooperation with national governments, media, NGOs and educational institutions is also essential for a public relations campaign for the EU. The participants also agreed to pursue a lively exchange of information about the measures to be taken in a targeted public relations campaign.

4th Conference, Berlin, 30 August 2002
Its representatives were dealing with questions of transport infrastructure, the sustainable development of metropolises in Europe and the future orientation of the European regional and structural policies. Despite the fact that a large majority of EU citizens live in towns or cities, the amount of funding for these urban areas has only played a minor role in comparison to the funds that flow into rural areas. With a share of 0.4 % of the EU structural funds, the URBAN II. Initiative of the EU, as the only special support instrument for the development of towns and cities, has the lowest budget for the current support period. Therefore also funding areas which are of particular added value from a European point of view should be defined.

5th Conference, Budapest, 21 March 2003
In the Statement the Mayors stressed that the urban dimension should play a bigger role in the structural policy post 2006 than today. Cities should be targets of this policy not only with regard to their most deteriorating areas, but also with their opportunities, removing barriers of accessibility and making better use of existing resources for wider areas. The fundamental behind these considerations is that the development of major metropolitan areas contributes to increased economic efficiency, thus allowing for better support of the disadvantaged regions. Furthermore the Cohesion Fund should also be used to connect European capitals in order to strengthen their cooperation and to support high growth potential of big cities.

6th Conference, Riga, 11 September 2003
Participants of the Conference focused on the topic of security and adopted the statement Security in Enlarged Europe. It was agreed that the problem of safety improvement in the EU candidate states is one of the most significant and essential issues, which also determine the general level of welfare and living standards of the population. Therefore cities should promote an active cooperation between the state, local institutions and NGOs of the EU member states as well as the candidate states in the field of protection of rights, ensuring public order and improving safety. It was also agreed to support and develop a wider cooperation in relation to experience exchange in the field of ensuring safety.

7th Conference, Ljubljana, 26 March 2004
The cities of Zagreb, Sarajevo, Tirana, Podgorica and Belgrade participated at the conference in Ljubljana for the first time. The main topic of the Conference was ''Cooperation between the Capital Cities of Accession Countries and Candidate Countries for EU Enlargement''. The participants discussed on cohesion policy, structural funds reform, Acquis Communitaire (Community patrimony) on public services and other issues as well. Developing cooperation between the capital cities represented at this conference was remarked as an important part of the EU Strategy for ensuring stability, safety and the progress of the region and Europe as a whole. The conference participants expressed concern over the increasing number of terrorist attacks and ethnic conflicts in Europe and around the world. Thus, the participants expressed their resoluteness and determination to work on preventing any kind of violence. It was also agreed to continue the cooperation in the framework of ''Capital Cities for EU enlargement'' by fostering especially the cooperation at experts level as well as including in this process other capital cities from applicant or future applicant countries.