Get local authorities and regions the opportunity to further strengthen their integrated methodology and expand this into the European Urban Agenda? For Plandag 2o16 ‘Expanding’, David Dooghe wrote the paper ‘The European Urban Agenda versus the European practise’.


For several years Deltametropolis Association is working on the international comparison of the Dutch Deltametropolis with other metropolises. In addition, the association debates, via expert meetings, with our European partners on the urban development in Europe. The soon to be published European Urban Agenda is therefore an item on the Deltametropolis agenda.

These recent years, the debate concerning the European Urban Agenda seems to be where the focus of the Agenda lies: Will it be the what or the how question. The draft proposal of the agenda (November 2o15) was still limping on two legs and presented both themes (what) and the cross-cutting issues (how). From the association’s knowledge out of international comparisons and debates with European partners, we wondered if the draft EU Urban Agenda is in line with European practice?

What is striking is that, concerning the what question, different themes from the EU agenda come back in the international comparisons so far. Cities however, increasingly integrate these themes in their daily practice.. For example, if working on urban mobility, it goes without saying that cities look at how a digital or energy transition can contribute to that and what the effect will be on air quality. This is immediately obvious how cities deal with this kind of themes, namely in an integral way.

Thus, European cities are experimenting with solving the how question. These are, however, only the first steps of an integral approach. There is still a long way to go and much to be learned!

In contrast, the DG of the European Commission Region puts in the EU Urban Agenda the focus on the what question. This focus on themes makes sense from their perspective. The division into themes makes it easier to formulate and measure goals and financing the funding via specific subsidies.

During the roundtable, ‘the Randstad: a polycentric network in accordance with the European Urban Agenda?’ it became clear that a focus on the what question is obsolete. Subdivided into themes can undermine the growing European awareness of the importance of an integrated approach. Therefore, the introduction of the EU Urban Agenda could lead to the opposite of what the agenda originally intended: a sustainable urban development in Europe.