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The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, has issued a toolkit for governments across Europe on respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law during the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Toolkit (available in several languages)
The Eurocities network, which represents more than 140 major European cities, has developed a special COVIDnews section to share good ideas and innovative practices from local communities, and has also set up a webinar platform bringing together some 200 representatives from 70 cities across 20 countries in Europe. The goal is to inform and connect cities and facilitate city-to-city dialogue and mutual learning on how to prepare, respond and adapt to COVID-19, as well as plan to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the outbreak. The participants were also able to discuss with the European Commission how cities can access and use EU funding under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.
Eurocities organised “City dialogue” encounters on different topics in response to COVID 19, such as a discussion on the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 in cities and how to tackle them, on mobility measures, on culture, on public health, or on the role played by volunteers and civil society during the Covid-19 pandemic.
An online webinar has been organised, in partnership with OECD, to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on employment along with an online Social Affairs Forum to discuss “how cities can mitigate the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 crisis and plan for an inclusive recovery?”, and an exchange on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women.
On a different topic, the Eurocities Working Group Children met online to discuss the social impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on children and how cities are responding to mitigate them.
Speaking at Eurocities’ City Dialogue on recovery programmes in Europe’s cities on November 20, Barcelona City Council’s Bàrbara Pons-Giner explained the “Barcelona way” out of the health crisis. Presenting the “Pact for Barcelona”, she emphasised the importance of diversifying the economy and taking a phased approach to its recovery.
On 26 November, during the Week of Italian Cuisine, the Italian embassy in Paris welcomed four FOOD TRAILS pilot cities – Milan, Bergamo, Bordeaux and Grenoble – to discuss how they dealt with food-related issues during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A dedicated web page “European cities respond to the coronavirus crisis” has also been created. Eurocities also participated, with the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights and its partners, in the publication of 10 recommendations for the responsible use of digital technologies for COVID-19 response, and underlined – in an initiative agreed and signed by the deputy mayors of various European cities – that the exit from COVID-19 crisis must be digital, local and work for all.
At the same time, Eurocities has launched a survey on “How are cities fighting child poverty?” to collect data, evidence and good practices on city measures to mitigate child poverty.
The network has also compiled two overviews of responses taken by cities on the mitigation the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, as well as the social measures to respond to COVID-19. Eurocities has been looking at the policy responses taken by city administrations to mitigate the worst socioeconomic effects of the health crisis.
During the informal European Council meeting of national ministers on urban matters, on 30 November, Eurocities President Dario Nardella underlined that the involvement of cities in decision-making needs to be reinforced and that EU funding and investments have to rapidly reach cities in these times of crisis.
To overcome the economic crisis resulting from the corona pandemic, Helsinki wants to support new companies. The city has launched a business development and coaching service for start-ups that are aiming for international markets.
In a joint statement, mayors of big cities across Europe called for cross-border solidarity and urged strong collaboration between all levels of government, while expressing deep concern about both the short and longer-term knock-on effects of the pandemic and the Europe-wide lockdown. They stressed that with the right tools, city governments can further support people and local economies in the current crisis, calling on the EU to work closely with cities on the EU’s recovery plan and to ensure rapid access for cities to funding.
Also, an alliance of global city voices, of which EUROCITIES is a part, has shared an open letter to global financial leaders claiming that the post-COVID 19 recovery cannot lead to a return to ‘normal’
In addition, on 29 October 2020, nine European mayors (from Barcelona, Bratislava, Budapest, Hannover, Lisbon, Milan, Paris, Prague and Warsaw) asked in an open letter to the Presidents of EU institutions to earmark at least 10% of the Recovery and Resilience Facility to the local level.