Mayor Ada Colau meets the Secretary General of Eurocities, Anna Lisa Boni
On 10 May, the Mayor met Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General of Eurocities, who travelled to Catalonia to take part in an official ceremony in Terrassa to celebrate Europe Day. Their meeting served to strengthen Barcelona’s commitment towards the network of European cities. They both agreed that Europe is experiencing “a critical moment, in which it must rethink its model of governance, to take cities into account”. Colau and Boni coincided that Europe needed “to take a lesson in democracy to get nearer to its founding principles”. They also subscribed to continuing to cooperate together from Eurocities to, amongst other priorities, promote work on behalf of refugees, extending it to all European Institutions.
In addition, the Mayor and Anna Lisa Boni met with Second Deputy Mayor, Laia Ortiz, to discuss Barcelona’s future presidency of Eurocities’ Social Affairs Forum. They also met with Francisco Rodríguez, Managing Director of the Municipal Institute of Informatics, to learn about the new municipal smart city strategy. When visiting the facilities of the city’s local development agency Barcelona Activa, SA, they were shown the work and results of municipal policies for employment, economic promotion and entrepreneurship.
International Forum on the reception and Integration of refugees in the EUs en la UE
Barcelona City Council and the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia organise an International Forum on reception and integration of refugees in the European Union in Barcelona on the 3 May
Europe currently faces its biggest humanitarian crisis since WWII. The massive numbers of refugees, many of whom are fleeing war in Syria, are seeking a safe place to live in Europe. The arrival of such large numbers of refugees is putting European values to the test, along with the capacity of EU member states to react and can, in the long run, affect the European construction project.
The challenge for the EU is twofold. It involves, on the one hand, coordinating the humanitarian emergency related to the arrival of refugees, and on the other to assure the integration of the newcomers within the hosting society.
Barcelona City Council and the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia organise in this context the International Forum on reception and integration of refugees within the EU in Barcelona on the 3 May, with the objective to discuss this new situation and share the challenges and opportunities arising from the influx of refugees.
The Forum will be divided into two parts. Part I will focus on cities, regions and states, as well as organisations that are currently actively involved in receiving refugees. Part II will look at successful projects for mid- and long-term integration of newcomers, while seeking an exchange of best practices for public administration, as well as how NGO’s can best contribute.
First Paneuropean Meeting of Local Authorities and the New Generation of Free Trade Agreements was held in Barcelona
On 21 and 22 April the First Paneuropean Meeting of Local Authorities and the New Generation of Free Trade Agreements was held in Barcelona, with the participation of cities, regions, organisations, associations and civil society. The event was organised by Barcelona City Council in cooperation with the Catalonia No to TTIP Platform.
Elected representatives from more than 40 cities throughout Europe took part and adopted the Barcelona Declaration, which set out the demands of European cities and regions denouncing this bilateral agreement, negatively impacting many local and regional administrative powers and endangers the quality of life and welfare of European citizens. Gerardo Pisarello, Barcelona City Council First Deputy Mayor, stated that “we will not give consensus to any agreement not taking the cities into account”.
All European cities and regions are welcome to adhere to this Declaration, which will be presented before European institutions, national governments and relevant organisations. The second meeting is to be held in Grenoble.
Barcelona declared itself a TTIP free city by approving an institutional declaration in September 2015, which was backed and supported by over 90 associations and citizen campaigns forming part of the Catalonia No to TTIP Platform.
We, the Mayors and elected local representatives, participating in the first Pan-European Meeting of Local Authorities and the New Generation of Free Trade Agreements, declare that:
The European Commission, on the mandate of the Member States, has entered into negotiation with the United States of America on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement (TTIP), as well as the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and Europe (CETA), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). These treaties are being negotiated in a non-transparent manner, not fulfilling European democratic and participatory standards.
We believe that transparency cannot be sacrificed to the benefit of trade secrecy. Local and regional bodies must play an integral part in the negotiation of the mandates.
Today, Europe finds itself at a crossroads. The crises being experienced by the EU require a political solution. As such, we believe that Europe needs to place core values at the centre of its policy: solidarity, respect of freedoms and justice. These new generation trade agreements are doubtfully beneficial to society as a whole. Europe must underpin its economy by strengthening social, economic, environmental and employment rights and not merely by widening free trade.
We are deeply concerned that these treaties will put at risk our capacity to legislate and use public funds (including public procurement), severely damaging our task to aid people in basic issues such as: housing, health, environment, social services, education, local economic development or food safety.
We are also alarmed about the fact that these pacts will jeopardise democratic principles by substantially reducing political scope and constraining public choices. The implementation of a range of measures will gravely impact on local democracy, such as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) or International Court System (ICS). Regulatory Cooperation in TTIP, and changes made to the regulation of government procurement and public services.
We recognise the importance of the trade of goods and services for citizen wellbeing, but we stress that competitiveness and economic growth should not be the only criteria used to determine free trade agreements such as TTIP, CETA and others (such as TISA).
We believe that international trade must be based on criteria that is not limited to mere free trade. We must defend trade which is fair, sustainable, and which upholds labour rights.
We consider it our duty, as elected representatives, to defend local communities and democratic institutions as spaces for debate and decision-making, and to strengthen public policies for the good of our citizens, protecting the environment and supporting SMEs and the local economy.
We demand that current negotiations on TTIP and TiSA be suspended until the concerns of local and regional governments have fully taken into account in the ratification in any of these treaties.
We celebrate the social movement which has made this European debate possible and we want to give them due recognition for their role and we invite them to continue their work.
For all these considerations, we demand that current negotiations on TTIP and TISA be suspended and a new mandate renegotiated taking into account the demands of those who have not been consulted and we urge the European Parliament, European Council and national governments not to ratify CETA.
This Declaration will be adopted by all cities present and to be signed by all those who shall adhere to it in the future, will be presented to those responsible in the European Union, national governments, and pertinent institutions and organisations.
Barcelona, 21 April 2016