Dear President von der Leyen,
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has once again shed light on the vital role local governments play in the lives of European citizens. They are the authorities in direct contact with their citizens, and therefore the best equipped to respond to a crisis in a timely and appropriate manner, be the response about providing vital public services, funding and operating medical care facilities, providing safety equipment to the citizens, supporting local businesses or ensuring that measures aimed at flattening the curve are locally put in place and observed.
Unfortunately, however, as we have seen in multiple instances, politics play a major role in deciding what resources are available for local governments to carry out all these vital tasks in times of crisis. In several EU member states, such as Hungary, the national government cut vital channels of resources available for local authorities to face the increased burden upon their shoulders rather than providing additional funding for local authorities to combat the crisis. We have also seen other legal obstacles which prevent municipalities from fulfilling their duties, like in the Czech Republic. To withhold funding from or handcuff the legitimate powers of local authorities in times of crisis is dangerous, and to do it on a political basis is vicious to say at the least.
Subsidiarity is at the heart of the European project, as it is defined in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. According to this Article, National Parliaments are supposed to ensure compliance with the principle of subsidiarity. But when National Parliaments decide not to aid local authorities in times of need, it is the role and duty of the European Union to ensure that the necessary resources are available for local governments to efficiently face this and any future crisis on the basis of subsidiarity.
Therefore we, the undersigned mayors and deputy mayors of Europe reiterate the plea of 36 European cities sent to presidents of the European institutions earlier this year to ensure that the next Multiannual Financial Framework recognises the pivotal role cities, urban areas and local authorities play in the lives of European citizens by allocating directly accessible, tailored funds for local governments and authorities. Our efforts to ensure the health of our citizens and recovery efforts in line with the European Green Deal can only succeed if the European institutions put in place regulatory and financial mechanisms that provide the necessary means for local authorities to act and to have sufficient means to act.
- Evelyne Huytebroeck and Thomas Waitz - co-chairs of the European Green Party
- Mayor Gergely Karácsony, Budapest (Hungary)
- Deputy Mayor Sanna Vesikansa, Helsinki (Finland)
- Mayor Belit Onay, Hannover (Germany)
- Deputy Mayor Tatiana Kratochvilova from Bratislava (Slovakia)
- Mayor Markus Reiter, Vienna 7th District (Austria)
- Mayor Johan Remkes (interim), The Hague (The Netherlands)
- Mayor Matteo Ricci and Deputy Mayor Daniele Vimini, Pesaro (Italy)
- Mayor Päivi Laajala, Oulu (Finland)
- Mayor Magdalena Davis, Mníšek pod Brdy (Czech Republic)