Brussels, 10 December 2013 – The European debate “From cities to Europe”, organised by the European Forum for Urban Security on 10 December at the Committee of the Regions head office in Brussels, ended with a call for more support from the European Union to local authorities and for greater consideration to be taken of the role that they play.
About a hundred representatives from regional authorities and European institutions attended this conference-debate on crime prevention and citizen participation. This debate was based on the results and outcomes of the “Sharing the Manifesto” initiative which Efus launched in 2013 as part of the European Year of Citizens in order to promote the discussion of security policies between local authorities, civil society and other stakeholders in urban life using as a basis the Manifesto of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis.
At the beginning of the conference the participants were able to watch the “Sharing the Manifesto” video, which is made up of clips from the various debates that took place throughout Europe. It shows the views of European citizens (representatives from local associations, members of sports clubs, students) and local elected officials on 5 themes from the Manifesto: crime prevention, citizen participation, the role of local authorities, evaluation of security policies and being part of Europe.
“More than ever, in view of the upcoming European election, Efus must play its role of messenger between citizens and Europe in order to share the European project and to make the voice of citizens and local stakeholders heard by European institutions,” said the president of Efus, Guilherme Pinto.
The president of the Committee of the Regions, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, said that “events such as this conference show the interest taken by many cities and regions in Europe and the good practices that they have implemented. Sharing experiences improves knowledge and this contributes undeniably to society’s trust in institutions.”
The local elected officials who attended the conference argued in favour of long-term policies and a balance between prevention and punishment. “Prevention is a rational and strategic option, as well as being the most cost-effective,” said Mr Pinto.
The participants in the debate stressed that European institutions must take into account the increasingly important role played by local governments. Given the upcoming European elections in 2014 and the formation of a new Commission, local authorities are calling for programmes and resources that take into account the increasingly important role they play in the economic and political arena. “Local authorities need support from Europe in order to ensure their development at the regional level. The European Union must continue to allow local authorities to invest in local policies, which are the tools of prevention,” said Willy Demeyer, Mayor of Liège (Belgium).
Jacque Salvator, Mayor of Aubervilliers, said that the consensus conference on preventing reoffending, which was organised in February 2013 by the French Ministry of Justice, partly sprang from the Efus conference in 2012, and he thanked the European Forum for the progress made on this issue in France.
The elected officials member of the European Forum also called for the promotion of citizen participation in urban security policies. Cities must continue to work together and integrate a culture of participation by implementing initiatives that make it possible for citizens to make a meaningful contribution to local security policies.
“We must be aware of the fact that the trust citizens have in the European Union is declining,” said Mr Valcárcel Siso. “Only the initiatives aimed at fostering citizen participation in political debates can improve this situation. We must promote dialogue between local European authorities, civil society and other parties involved in security and urban protection, including the private sector.”
Anne-Marie Cibaud, Deputy Mayor of Brest (France), considered it “important for citizens, and young people in particular, to make their voices heard by getting more involved in the life of their city through, for example, community meetings.”
The general consensus among the participants was that citizen participation is especially important in times of crisis and that it is a source of sustainable democracy and social cohesion.
Speeches and presentations of the speakers:
Speech of the President of the Committee of the Regions (in Spanish)
Speech of Ms Jana Sancova, City of Brno (CZ)
Presentation of Ms Angels Vila, Generalitat de Catalunya (ES)
Speech of Ms Anne-Marie Cibaud, City of Brest and Brest-métropole-Océane (FR) (in French)
Speech of Mr Antun Buterin, Časopis Zaštita (HR)
Presentation of Ms Anne Girond, Conseil général du Val d’Oise (FR)
Presentation of Mr Erich Marks and Ms Claudia Heinzelmann, Landespräventionsrat Niedersachsen (DE) and Deutsch-Europäische Forum für Urbane Sicherheit e.V. (DEFUS)
Presentation of Ms Giulia Camozzini, DG Home – European Commission
Pictures ©Committee of the Regions