A town hall in France, Source: Depositphotos

Inflation? War? European mayors remain focused on climate

Inflation? War? European mayors remain focused on climate

Eurocities’ first-ever Pulse Survey is an eye-opener when it comes to local government attitudes on the Old Continent

What’s the mood of European mayors ahead of the upcoming 2024 European elections? A question that may sound political but actually has practical implications, and it is with these last in mind that Eurocities conducted its first, and set-to-be-annual, survey called Pulse Mayors Survey.

92 city leaders from 28 European counties participated in the research, which resulted in a 44-page report that defines the challenges, priorities and hopes that underscore the policies of European local governance.

The biggest takeaway from the report is that climate change weighs large on the consciousness of European mayors as a priority. Much more so than other concurrent crises that are rocking their societies, such as the war in Ukraine or the cost of living.

To localize Europe, align EU and mayors

For nearly 55% of surveyed mayors, taking action to make cities resilient to the whims of climate change is imperative. For comparison, the second highest priority, sustainable mobility, is a top priority for 23.08%, less than half. Economic recovery comes third with 19.78%.

What this shows is that the policies and goals of the top EU functionaries and the local leaders are quite aligned, often in disharmony with the national authorities of the EU member states.

The Mayors’ strong commitment to climate action comes in contrast to a worrying trend we currently see among national and European politicians, many of whom are turning away from their commitment to a climate-neutral Europe,” commented André Sobczak, Secretary General of Eurocities.

When it comes to the mayors’ expectations of being able to fund different priorities, though, they highlight that current resources are not enough. While EU funding is helping them to cover somewhat the huge financial gaps in areas such as climate and energy, mayors do not feel they receive comparable support for their other priorities.

And this represents a big source of tension and potential conflict, as well as disillusionment with the effectiveness of EU governance. Eurocities see this finding as a crucial opportunity for the EU to reach out to local governments and include them more robustly in the decision-making processes as partners.

Other significant findings from the survey are:

  • The top investment priorities for mayors to fight the energy crisis are sustainable mobility (24%), buildings renovation and energy efficiency (23%) and the development of renewable/green energy (20%).
  • 92% of EU mayors feel they are contributing to EU priorities via the actions in their cities. However, more than 50% of mayors based in the EU say that the EU institutions and policies tend not to take into consideration their specific needs and their potential. 
  • Over 86% of mayors said the current high level of inflation had affected their ability to make long-term strategic investments.
  • Most mayors said they will have difficulty having sufficient or partial resources to match their needs when it comes to dealing with issues such as housing (38%), climate change and the energy transition (37%), and urban poverty social exclusion (32%).

The report, which you can consult here, also details the top challenges that mayors feel are lying ahead of them, as well as other findings that throw light on the pulse of local governance one year ahead of the European Parliament elections.



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