The General Assembly of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities - a success
An associated event of the Dutch Presidency of the European Council of the EU, the assembly attracted over 500 registered participants from across all sectors of the EIP – mobility, energy, citizens, urban planning, etc. The strong interest illustrates the key role of the Partnership in facilitating cooperation and market-building in Europe. To facilitate the stocktaking of achievements and focus on important steps ahead, the assembly was divided in public high-level debates and closed meetings of the core EIP Initiatives.
Rob van Gijzel, Mayor of Eindhoven – Polis’ member, opened the conference with a motivating speech in which he stressed the need to work together both at the European and the local level. “Connection and collaboration between cities can give new meaning to the EU”, said Mr. Van Gijzel, who equally stressed that smart cities needed smart people.
After his speech, Violeta Bulc, Commissioner for Transport, and Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and Environment, took the floor to discuss what is being done to support smart cities of the future. According to Commissioner Bulc, “A key priority for this Commission is simplifying and broadening access to finance; as well as developing innovative financing. We want more money to flow into good projects that can be replicated in cities across Europe and then exported as solutions to the rest of the world.”
The morning session continued with a high-level panel debate. The panel discussed investment needs and opportunities for smart cities at the European scale, and finished with a speech from Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission, who talked about the importance of energy policies and renewable alternatives and encouraged the audience to “smarten” European cities.
After that, discussions continued in eleven parallel break-out sessions where participants worked on the next steps of the EIP Smart Cities and Communities Initiatives. The Sustainable Urban Mobility action cluster had two sessions - on New Mobility Services and Electromobility. The New Mobility Services initiative broke into two groups, one discussing data standardization and the other one focusing on local ITS service development. The Electromobility session had four thematic groups: e-fleets, e-freight, e-buses and e-mobility planning and charging (led by Polos’ member Ile-de-France.
Finally, a second high-level panel debate on how to create demand for smart city solutions closed the Assembly.