We must minimise Russian influence and confront the reality of energy poverty created by the crisis, said Frans Timmermans at the Prague Summit of Cities


On 26-27 September 2022, Prague hosted the Prague Summit of Cities, held on the occasion of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU. On Tuesday 27 September, the Summit focused on Direct ialogues between the Mayors of EU capitals and the European Commission. The main topics were energy self-sufficiency, affordable housing and climate protection. Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, represented the European Commission in the direct dialogue. The afternoon session for the public took place at the Prague Centre for Architecture and Urban Planning (CAMP).

We must minimise Russian influence and confront the reality of energy poverty created by the crisis, said Frans Timmermans at the Prague Summit of Cities

11th Direct Dialogue between EU Capitals Mayors and the European Commission

The main topics of Tuesday's dialogue were energy savings, assistance to citizens during the coming winter, scaling up sustainable solutions in cities and direct funding.

"European cities need to have a joint dialogue with the European institutions and innovate their approach to redistributing funding and tackling the current crises. We want cities to get direct funding and more power on these issues. They can then offer quicker, more direct and more localised solutions than central governments. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, inflation and the energy crisis are not only affecting us economically, but are also fuelling the rise of populism, polarisation and extremism in our democratic countries. We believe that by giving more power to municipalities that are in close contact with their citizens, we can combat this trend, minimise Russian influence and create smart cities that will save our financial resources and also create a good environment for future generations," said Rafal Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw and one of the founders of the Pact of Free Cities at the summit.

The European Commission was represented by Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, who said on this occasion: "The ongoing Russian occupation is not only about Ukraine, but challenges democratic values across the EU and polarises views across European societies. Our aim is to create measures to minimise Russian influence and also to face the reality of energy poverty that is the direct consequence of the ongoing crisis. We need to make profound changes in our approach to sustainable development and the implementation of the Green Deal for Europe to show our citizens that they are in our long-term as well as short-term interests. We must become energy self-sufficient and find ways to save energy efficiently while maintaining a high standard of living. Research, innovation and renewable energy sources are the only way to achieve this goal."

During the discussion, city representatives shared their solutions, examples and practices. Anni Sinnemäki, Deputy Mayor for the Urban Environment of Helsinki, shared her vision for the city to become carbon neutral by 2030: "We are at a time when small steps towards sustainable development are not enough, European cities need comprehensive and long-term solutions. In Helsinki, we have been able to achieve a transformation by, for example, changing transport infrastructure, installing LED lights, lowering the temperature in city buildings, innovating ventilation systems and providing our citizens with free consultations on sustainable renovations and housing."

About the Pact of Free Cities

The Pact was founded in 2019 in Budapest by the mayors of the Visegrad Four cities of Prague, Warsaw, Bratislava and Budapest. In three years, the Pact has grown into a global network of 33 member cities that espouse values such as progress and a pragmatic approach to problem solving versus nationalistic populism. The members subscribe to the values of freedom, democracy and equality, emphasising cooperation and sharing examples of good practice. The Pact of Free Cities was created to highlight the growing importance of cities in preserving and protecting democracy and an open society. The vision of the Pact is to build a network of mayors that is guided by these values, adapts flexibly to the ever-changing political environment and brings about meaningful change.

More information about the Compact: www.pactoffreecities.com

The Summit was organised by the MHMP and CAMP with the support of Eurocities.

Lucia Legáthová

Economic Diplomacy Specialist

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