Organised with the Dutch Ministry for the Interior and Kingdom Relations

In response to the severe impacts of climate change, the European Union set becoming the first climate neutral continent as its high-priority goal. To accelerate this transition, the 100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030 Mission was developed to deliver 100 climate neutral and smart cities by 2030, and to ensure these cities will enable others to follow by acting as innovation and experimentation hubs. Seven Dutch cities were selected to join. 

To achieve the objectives set by the Mission, cities will need support in terms of funding, knowledge exchange, and adapted regulations. The European Commission recognised these needs by investing in supporting infrastructures such as NetZeroCities, a knowledge platform to facilitate exchange between Mission cities, and CapaCITIES, a recently launched project to facilitate national support to the Mission. The Commission also highlighted the need for national governments to support the cities. 

The Policy Lab responded to these developments by facilitating an informal exchange between the Netherlands, Germany, and France on ways for national governments to support their Mission cities (selected and not selected). Through the discussion of key dilemmas faced by national governments, experiences with setting up and facilitating governmental support structures for the Mission were shared. These dilemmas pertained to elements such as national commitment, legislative room to experiment, and coordination with the ecosystem.

Expert contributions

Dutch National Support Structures – State of play

Saskia Hesselink, Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and Geiske Bouma, TNO

Contracted by RVO and the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, TNO executed an inventory amongst a broad range of partners in the Dutch ecosystem to analyse and discuss the set-up of the National Support Structures for the EU Cities Mission. The research focused on four perspectives (agenda, activities, governance, and coordination), and allowed to identify three scenarios for the further set up of such National Support Structure. The distinguishing element of each scenario is who will take the lead in the process: cities, national governments, or independent organisations. Overall, the involvement of the national government and a link to its 2050 climate goals are important for the continuation of the EU Cities Mission ambitions after 2030. 

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French National Support Structures – State of play

Luc Faraldi, ANCT and Carole Pourchez, French Ministry for Ecological Transition

A so-called ‘Mirror Group’, firstly created to ensure the involvement of all French stakeholders in the JPI Driving Urban Transition partnership, is now being used as National Support Structure. The group is meant to provide a space for exchange between three different target groups: researchers, local authorities, and private companies involved in urban issues. The objective is, on one hand, to support those who want to submit applications, finding partners to build successful projects, and on the other hand to provide support in the development of the experiments by helping to identify blockages and obstacles. To take the Mirror Group further, the connections with the EU Cities Mission ecosystem (i.e. NetZeroCities, CapaCITIES, Mission Board, should be explored, and thematic foci developed within the target groups. 


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German National Support Structures – State of play

Dominique Breier and Tilman Buchholz, German Federal Ministry of Housing, Urban, Development, and Building

To support the 9 selected German cities, and beyond, a National steering board is being put in place. The board is composed of five different federal ministries, German cities associations, the Federal institute for Research on Urban Development, two representatives of the Mission Cities (Aachen and Mannheim), and representatives of the regional ministries. The steering board aims to develop new instruments but primarily to connect the Mission with existing instruments, to be adjusted as needed. These instruments include national funding schemes of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action as well the Urban Development support programme. The coordination between the steering board and NetZeroCities is still to be explored.

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