The cost-of-living crisis has re-oriented the policy priorities of local governments in Europe, Source: Depositphotos

Social crises - an increasing priority for European mayors

Social crises - an increasing priority for European mayors

This is what the second annual Eurocities Pulse Mayors Survey revealed two weeks ahead of the European elections

Tackling the spiralling housing crisis and responding to rising social inequalities are growing concerns for mayors of European cities in 2024, a major new survey from Eurocities has revealed.  

Published two weeks ahead of the European elections, the second annual Eurocities Pulse Mayors Survey, which collected results from 92 mayors in 28 European countries, has uncovered the main trends, challenges and priorities that shape urban affairs in 2024.

Climate action, however, remains a top objective

The survey also confirms that climate change remains the top priority for city leaders overall. As was the case in 2023, well over half of mayors put climate action as their top priority for 2024, more than double any other category.

According to the survey, the biggest priorities for mayors in 2024 are: 

  • 67% climate action: Mayors highlight cities’ central role in leading actions such as building renovations and developing sustainable transport. 
  • 31% social inclusion and equity: Mayors highlight rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. They want to work with the EU to protect people’s social rights in the green and digital transformations and build the city’s capacity to respond to pressure on essential social services.
  • 30% access to affordable and social housing: Mayors state their willingness to work with the next EU institutions and national governments to invest in high-quality, fair housing and to improve social housing.
  • 28% sustainable mobility: Mayors emphasise the importance of safety, affordability and efficiency while minimising harmful emissions.

While climate change remains the top priority for European mayors in 2024, they also pay much more attention to social inclusion and housing than last year,” says André Sobczak, Secretary General of Eurocities. “This underlines that, unlike many populist politicians, mayors do not oppose ecological and social needs. Rather, they aim to work simultaneously on both challenges to develop a just transition where no one is left behind.

Despite a recent backlash against the European Green Deal’s policies among some national and European politicians, mayors responding to the survey underline their commitment to achieving the EU’s climate neutrality goals. “The vast majority of mayors are also confident that their citizens support their ambitious climate goals,” says Sobczak.

However, when it comes to being able to fund climate action and other priorities, mayors state that they are not receiving enough support from the EU or their national governments.  

Even though city and EU priorities are often very much aligned, these are areas where European funding and policies are falling well short, and continue to be held back by national governments,” says Sobzcak. “As a result, many cities lack the capacity to meet their climate targets, while others are struggling to meet the housing needs of the most vulnerable people. If this situation does not improve, we risk a huge backlash among citizens.”

With June’s European elections set to bring new mandates for the European Parliament and the European Commission, mayors state that the main areas for future EU investment must be climate change and energy, sustainable mobility and access to housing. 

The mayors of Europe have made it clear that a better future for the people of Europe starts in its cities,” says Sobczak. “With 75% of Europeans living in cities, mayors are asking the EU to invest in infrastructure that will reduce inequalities, strengthen public services and build a just, green and prosperous future for Europe.”

The survey also reveals the strategies that the mayors will be relying on to secure funding in pursuit of their stated objectives. The strategies to achieve the priorities are sourcing additional central government or EU funding for their city (85%), focusing on innovation to implement new cutting-edge solutions (61%) and establishing better ways to cooperate with national governments (49%).



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU