Organised as part of the Czech EU Council Presidency 2022 with the Czech Ministry of Regional Development.

The New Leipzig Charter (NLC), endorsed by Ministers responsible for Urban Matters in November 2020, puts forward three dimensions of cities for integrated urban development in Europe: the just, the green and the productive city – complemented by the crosscutting dimension of digitalisation.

To further promote the NLC implementation, the Czech EU Council Presidency has decided to focus on the cross-cutting digital dimension, being it already a key priority of Czech urban development strategies.

The event provided a platform to discuss and reflect on how local governments navigate the vast pool of opportunities offered by EU funding schemes to implement smart solutions, especially focusing on their role in localising the digital transition.

Expert Contributions

Digitalisation as a solution for territorial fragmentation

Marie Zezůlková, Director, Regional Policy Department, Czech Ministry of Regional Development

Due to the fragmentation of the country, digital and innovative solutions are essential for Czechia’s cities to solve challenges in infrastructure and public services. If municipalities of all sizes get help and financial support in adopting smart solutions, sustainable urban development can be achieved. However, this can only happen by adopting a territorial vision: all cities in the wider region need to cooperate for integrated and innovative urban development.

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The role of the European Union for digital cities

Javier Orozco-Messana, Policy Officer – Seconded National Expert, Directorate-General Communications Networks Content Technologies (DG CONNECT), Technologies for Smart Communities

The role of the EU Commission in shaping Europe’s digital future is fundamental to create an ecosystem where cities and regions cooperate and share their practices to develop technologies for a smarter European community. To do so, a solid policy framework is needed, and a corresponding infrastructure to support the adoption of such laws and projects required. Legislative measures will guarantee that data is open and information interoperable while protecting confidentiality and security of users, so that new skills, public services and businesses can benefit all cities in the European Union.

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Living-in.EU: the digital transformation in the 'European way'

Federica Bordelot, Senior Policy Advisor for Digital Transformation, Eurocities

Living-in.EU is a multilevel governance initiative and a collaborative platform of which the goal is to boost and foster the digital transformation of European cities and communities in the ‘European way’, that is, basing itself on EU principles, such as citizen-centered values, a co-creation and collaborative approach, and ethical and social responsible use of data. The greatest aim of the project is to have cities, companies, regional centers, associations and more working together to tackle interrelated challenges through the use of integrated data and the creation of digital twins.

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Challenges for small and medium sized cities towards digitalisation

Miia Paananen, Senior EU Advisor, Turku-Southwest Finland European Office

Small and medium sized cities do not always have the capacity and the resources to develop digital instruments to address current urban issues, such as climate change, increasing urbanization, and the aging population, alone. In this sense, it is important to be part of networks as well as to cooperate with the national level to develop new digital instruments and data strategies. By doing so, all challenges related to the ethical use of data, open data, digital public services, database policymaking and so on will more easily be tackled.

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A support system for the digital transition

Jonas Onland, Program Leader Digital Transformation & Europe at VNG, Association of Netherlands Municipalities

Cities require practical help with the digital transformation: instruments need to be developed to support them where they are not educated enough, especially regarding access to funding schemes. Besides, infrastructure must be built with the contribution of the national government to integrate the progress made on digitalisation by both the local and the regional levels, so that especially smaller cities can benefit from a territorial support.

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