Pact of Amsterdam


Pact of Amsterdam: Urban Agenda for the EU

More and more people are living, working and spending their free time in cities. Cities offer fertile ground to start new business, provide platforms for cultural dialogue and diversity, and are incubators for innovation. With the current (European) trend towards urbanisation, the importance of cities and urban areas will continue to grow. This growth is accompanied by complex challenges, including an ever greater risk of segregation, increased criminality and environmental problems.

Through the Urban Agenda for the EU Member States, cities, European institutions and other stakeholders will be working together for a sustainable, socially inclusive, innovative and economically powerful Europe.

For the complete text see the downloads at the bottom of the page. The Pact of Amsterdam is available in English, French and German.

What is the Urban Agenda for the EU?

The Urban Agenda for the EU is a new working method to ensure maximum utilisation of the growth potential of cities and to successfully tackle social challenges. It aims to promote cooperation between Member States, cities, the European Commission and other stakeholders, in order to stimulate growth, liveability and innovation in the cities of Europe. Part of this new approach is the development of a range of European partnerships with the objective of:

  1. Promoting the involvement of cities in EU policy making and the development, implementation and evaluation of more ´urban friendly´ European legislation(‘Better Regulation’).
  2. Ensuring better access to and utilisation of European funds.
  3. Improving the European urban knowledge base and stimulating the sharing of best practices and cooperation between cities.

Why an Urban Agenda for the EU?

International research has revealed that cities are of huge importance to Europe. They are the powerhouses of economic growth, innovation and employment. 72% of all Europeans live in cities. This percentage is expected to rise to 80 by 2050. Complex challenges related to the environment, transport and social cohesion are increasingly negatively impacting quality of life in cities. The Urban Agenda for the EU aims to address these challenges.

To fully exploit the potential of cities, European policies and rules should be more in line with local practice in cities. This does not entail new or more competences for the European Union, but a better working method, focused on cooperation between Member States, cities, European institutions and other stakeholders.


The new approach of the Urban Agenda for the EU includes the development of a range of European partnerships. Within these partnerships, the European Commission, Member States and European cities will work together to ensure that the urban dimension is strengthened in EU policies. Obviously, principles of subsidiarity and proportionality should be taken into account. The partnerships will focus on the twelve priority themes of the Urban Agenda for the EU that have been agreed on. Four pilot partnerships already started with support of the Dutch EU Presidency.

Four (pilot) partnerships

  1. Air Quality, coordinated by the Netherlands (Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment).
  2. Housing, coordinated by Slovakia (Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development).
  3. Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees, coordinated by the city of Amsterdam (NL) and the European Commission (DG Home).
  4. Urban Poverty, coordinated by Belgium (Federal Urban Policy) and France (Commissariat General a L’ Egalité des Territoires).

 The Dutch national Urban Agenda and the Urban Agenda for the EU

Alongside the Urban Agenda for the EU, a national Urban Agenda is being developed in the Netherlands. The Dutch national government is setting up ´city deals´ between cities on different urban issues. The Dutch national Urban Agenda and the Urban Agenda for the EU are complementary. Urban issues are increasingly transnational in nature and mutually comparable. The Dutch national Urban Agenda can provide examples of innovative cooperation for other Member States. Dutch cities can also learn from other European cities about how to deal with urban challenges. At the same time, within the national Urban Agenda, European regulations can be identified that may be used more effectively, to help Dutch urban areas realising their competitive and innovative capacity. These cases can be included in the dialogue within the Urban Agenda for the EU, aimed at improving European rules and regulations.

The role of the Urban Agenda for the EU during the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union

During the first half of 2016, the Netherlands holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

On 30 May 2016, a Ministerial meeting was held in Amsterdam, attended by European Ministers responsible for Urban Matters. The aim is to reach agreement about the start of the Urban Agenda for the EU and to launch the first partnerships through the ‘Pact of Amsterdam’.

The General Affairs Council confirmed the main elements of the ‘Pact of Amsterdam’ in Council Conclusions at a meeting on June 24. The ‘Urban Agenda for the EU’ will be further developed under the incoming Slovak (2nd semester 2016) and Maltese Presidencies (1st semester 2017). The first four partnerships will continue their activities and the launch of new partnerships will be explored.


During its EU Presidency, several meetings related to the Urban Agenda for the EU were organised:

  • On 14 April, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Affairs organised the Innovation Expo 2016 ‘Cities of the future’. This innovation event brought together a network of 4.000 entrepreneurs, policy makers, academics and citizens with promising innovative initiatives.
  • On 21 April, the City of Amsterdam hosted the European Capital Mayors’ Meeting.
  • On 30 May, the Committee of the Regions hosted the Forum on the Urban Agenda for the EU for European local and regional politicians.
  • On 30 May, a City Makers Summit was held to enable European social innovators from different European cities to come together to exchange experiences and give input for the Urban Agenda for the EU. Ministers, who are responsible for urban development, ratify the Pact of Amsterdam. This is the formal start for the Urban Agenda for the EU.
  • On 24 June the General Affairs Council took place in Brussels. The Council Conclusions confirmed the main elements of the ’Pact of Amsterdam’ during this meeting.

 What can you do?

Experiences and knowledge from European cities are of huge importance. The Member States of the European Union, European cities and European institutions will develop partnerships together. The search for expertise from stakeholders that can help make these partnerships a success and strengthen the urban dimension of European-policy is ongoing. Stakeholders are hereby requested to provide input for better European regulations, better access to European funds and/or improving and helping initiate cooperation and sharing best practices .

What are concrete examples of challenges your organisation or project is facing when it comes to European policies? Where do you see specific opportunities? And what are the possible solutions?

We would like to invite you to make a contribution to this new form of cooperation as laid down in the Urban Agenda for the EU.