European Pillar of Social Rights: Cities delivering social rights
Eurocities published a report mapping cities’ existing policy measures that are in line with the principles of the EU Pillar of Social Rights. Many cities already deliver inclusive social policies to promote social rights for all people even before the EU Social Pillar was adopted. However, we found that cities’ efforts are not always known or recognised at national and EU levels.

European Pillar of Social Rights: Cities delivering social rights

by EUROCITIES | 8 February 2019

This research is the first in a series of Eurocities surveys to collect evidence from cities in line with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The report covers 20 cities in 12 EU member states governing a total of 20 million people. The evidence was gathered directly from city authorities and their relevant administrative departments. The responses fed into a comparative analysis to identify trends and map inspiring practices.

This report presents the findings on how cities deliver inclusive education, gender equality, equal opportunities and access to the labour market. It provides:

  • an overview of city competences in each of the four policy areas
  • trends and current social challenges at local level
  • good practices of city measures in line with each of the four principles
  • obstacles cities face to doing more or implementing better policies
  • policy recommendations for cities, member states and the EU
Eurocities 2021 Leipzig: The power of cities – transforming society

To address the lessons of the crisis and look towards a green, digital and just recovery, Eurocities 2021 Leipzig will examine how the EU’s strategic goals are translated and implemented in cities.

Eurocities 2021 Leipzig: The power of cities – transforming society


Eurocities 2021 Leipzig will take place from 3 to 5 November 2021.

Recovery is urgent. In cities, this is clearer than anywhere else. Entire sectors have been deeply affected by the pandemic. To meet the ambitious EU targets for digital transformation, emissions and poverty reduction, the recovery budget must be invested speedily and strategically.

Cities ability to transform, become more resilient, modernise governance and support surrounding areas is increasingly in the spotlight. The European Green Deal can only succeed with cities fully on board. Consequently, the EU has ramped up the financial opportunities for sustainable urban development. In all sectors, there is an EU programme that offers collaboration with cities.

This contrasts with the limited involvement of cities at strategic level in the EU. The renewed Leipzig Charter adopted under the German EU Presidency in 2020 made the case for the transformative power of cities. The Conference on the Future of Europe in May 2021 will open the debate about collaboration between levels of government for an effective and democratic recovery.

We will discuss the links between cities’ competences and their ability to drive the green, digital and just transformation. And we will demonstrate why decentralisation and empowerment of cities should be much higher on the EU’s political agenda.

Eurocities 2021 Leipzig will:

  • engage EU leaders in debate about empowering cities for resilient and sustainable recovery
  • highlight the results that cities and their mayors are achieving in the transformation of our
    societies, working with their citizens, local business and knowledge institutions
  • inspire city leaders and other stakeholders by presenting
    • local practices and innovations in implementing the Leipzig Charter’s principles (multi-level governance, integrated development, citizen engagement)
    • examples of how the Green Deal objectives are implemented in cities
  • identify common needs of cities for empowerment, including capacity building, sustainable finance, enabling policy frameworks and good governance.

Programme and details registration to follow. Please contact Nicola Vatthauer, Director for Events, Planning & Statutory Affairs, EUROCITIES, for more information.

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Cities Social Summit: Delivering social rights for an inclusive recovery
  • What is the vision of cities for an inclusive and sustainable recovery, and how to make it happen?
  • How can we better connect green, digital and social recovery with the right investments in the recovery plans?
  • How can cities contribute to the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan and ensure that it makes a real difference for people on the ground?

Join us to discuss these questions and more with mayors and deputy mayors from cities across Europe. City leaders will reaffirm their strong commitment to deliver the European Pillar of Social Rights and will announce new city pledges to making ‘Inclusive Cities for All’ with concrete actions and social investments at local level. 

Cities Social Summit


Date and Time: 6 May 2021 | 9 AM - 3 PM Central European Time (CET)

Register here

Cities are essential partners in delivering the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan and ensuring a fair, inclusive and sustainable recovery. Being home to over 75% of Europe’s population, cities are the engines of Europe’s economies, the beating hearts of Europe’s societies and the closest level of government to Europe’s people. Cities are responsible for implementing more than half of the EU’s social policies and cover two thirds of the total public social investment. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen cities step up as leaders on the frontline of this crisis, putting in place immediate measures to save jobs, help local businesses and protect the most vulnerable people. The road to a stronger social Europe by 2030 needs cities in the driving seat, now more than ever, to bring Europe closer to citizens and bring all people on board for just transitions.

  • What is the vision of cities for an inclusive and sustainable recovery, and how to make it happen?
  • How can we better connect green, digital and social recovery with the right investments in the recovery plans?
  • How can cities contribute to the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan and ensure that it makes a real difference for people on the ground?

Join us to discuss these questions and more with mayors and deputy mayors from cities across Europe. City leaders will reaffirm their strong commitment to deliver the European Pillar of Social Rights and will announce new city pledges to making ‘Inclusive Cities for All’ with concrete actions and social investments at local level. We will reflect on what cities have done so far to promote social rights for all people, what challenges remain and what more cities can do to contribute to the EU 2030 targets for employment, skills and poverty reduction.

Taking a step further, city leaders will propose to EU and national leaders a new pact to work together between all levels of government to connect the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan with the EU Green Deal and with the right investments under the recovery plans at local, national and EU level. The Eurocities President, Mayor Dario Nardella, will bring the conclusions from the cities’ social summit to the EU and national leaders at the EU Social Summit on 7 May in Porto to reaffirm the cities’ strong commitment to be partners in shaping and delivering the new EU social agenda for an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery in Europe, leaving no one behind.

The event will be held online on 6 May and will consist of two parts:

  • A morning roundtable debate will address the wider issues of recovery and how to connect green, digital and social recovery with the right investments in cities.
  • The afternoon roundtable debate will be focusing on how to deliver the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan and how to push social policies in the EU forward.

For any questions or further details about the event, please contact

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Eurocities' Citizen Card Lab is persuading cities across Europe to introduce one citizen card for access to all city services
This is the first objective of the cities participating in the ‘Citizen Card’ lab: persuading more cities to introduce one citizen card allowing residents to access as many services as possible, including discounts and advantages.

Europe, all in one

by Wilma Dragonetti | Eurocities | 9 April 2021

How plump is your wallet? Mine currently contains, apart from €13.55 dating back to March 2020, a local public transport card, two cinema cards, a gym card, a card with food benefits paid by my employer, two medical cards, my e-ID card, a bank account card, two library cards, and a museum card.

European cities at your fingertips

I invite you to count your cards, you might find out you have more of those than cash these days. How practical would it be if they were reduced to one?

Some European cities like Gijón, Rotterdam and Zaragoza already own a successful citizen card. “My citizen card is always with me,” says Laura González Méndez, International Affairs and City Branding at the Gijon City council, proudly pulling out the card from her coat’s pocket. Their citizens use the card on a daily basis to access services such as public transport, cultural spaces, sports facilities and social benefits. It offers people the chance to access public services where and when they want or need to.

And the cities involved in the ‘Citizen Card’ lab don’t want to stop there. If you are someone who had the chance to travel for work or pleasure, you might have also collected tourist cards and local transport cards of each city. It might make for a collectors’ fantasy, but it is surely not practical or convenient.

Imagine being a citizen of Gijon and using your local citizen card in Rotterdam to visit the Euromast, use public transport in Pau or admire the National Sculpture Museum in Valladolid. This is the vision that the combined efforts of our cities want to bring to life. To offer current and future generations a hassle-free, safe, secure and convenient solution to roam between European cities with only a smart card or app in the palm of your hand to make it all possible.

Interrail for cities

“We were inspired by the Interrail,” says Daniel Sarasa, Urban Innovation Planner at the Smart City Department at Zaragoza City Council, “which really created Europe, alongside other interesting and transformative programmes like Erasmus, allowing a generation of people to discover Europe. We wondered about creating the Interrail for cities, so that a person with a ticket or a pass for his or her city is automatically granted access to equivalent services in other cities.”

It is not just Interrail, the health systems have similar agreements to cover your health insurance in other EU countries, and services like the eduroam network, which provides internet connectivity at universities around the world, are more and more common. Not to mention private companies that have developed soft mobility solutions like e-scooters in several European cities and are therefore accessible through the same app everywhere.

In the future, cities want their residents to have the same kind of experience when interacting with them: access services when they want and where they want without having to share too much data, pay extensive fees, encounter bureaucracy, or give up their privacy completely.

Access without stigma

Gijon was one of the first cities to introduce a citizen card back in 2002. “At the time, it was revolutionary to have all the services of your city in one card,” says González Méndez. Today, with around 98% of its population using it, the card has integrated the daily life of Gijon’s residents who use it to access and pay for more than 100 actions grouped under 20 services linked to the local administration.

“It’s also a powerful tool from a politician’s point of view,” says González Méndez “because it can help change behaviours. For example, if the mayor wants to increase the use of public transport, we can create a discount on the card for people who use public transport, which will encourage people to use it more.”

Public transport, bike sharing schemes, public swimming pools and libraries, as well as recycling bins can all be accessed with Gijon’s citizen card. Although all citizen cards look the same to avoid stigmatisation, the profile connected to each is personal. “The profile is very important as depending on who you are you have different accesses to services,” explains González Méndez. “For example, an adult will not have the same price to access services as a child.” This means that to an external observer everyone is the same because there are no symbols to distinguish a card from another. So, someone receiving unemployment benefits can go to the museum with the card and pay the reduced price without anyone but the system knowing. This solution encourages people to take advantage of the services without fear of being labelled.

Power in data

Even if not immediately visible on its surface, cards such as Gijon’s collect a fair amount of data to be able to provide its services. “With data from the citizen cards we can improve our services,” says González Méndez. “For example, if we notice an increase in the use of bus number 10 by people with wheelchairs on specific times, we can adapt our busses with more spaces for people with reduced mobility.”

The collected data allows the city to make its residents’ life easier, but some might raise privacy concerns. “In the case of a citizen card it is your local administration that collects the data,” reassures Sarasa “they comply with all European regulations and [the European General Data Protection Regulation] GDPR, so you have your access rights and all the access related to privacy guaranteed.” The administration works with aggregate data – combined data disconnected from individual and personal data. For example, the local administration in Gijon knows the number of card holders that are also under social benefits, but they cannot easily cross check the numbers with the names. “It is safer than most private apps that everyone uses nowadays,” adds Sarasa.

In the perspective of a European citizen card, cities working on the ‘Citizen Card’ lab all agree that it would not only have to follow European standards for privacy and data use but respect a set of citizen data principles such as ensuring citizens have access to and can manage their data, as well as influence how it is collected and used. The data will also stay at local level, meaning that even though the European citizen card will be used in several cities across Europe, each city will manage the data of its residents. “Cities will communicate just in terms of permission,” explains Sarasa. “If the city of Brussels tells Zaragoza that users with certain IDs are ‘certified’ users of the card in Brussels, they will have permission to use services in Zaragoza. That’s all Zaragoza needs to know.”

Barriers and quick wins

Gijon, Zaragoza and Rotterdam have brought their experience to the table and technological developments in the past years have made it increasingly easy to imagine and achieve the dream of a European citizen card, however there are still obstacles.

“Sometimes the problem is not technical, but a matter of intention, political relations,” says González Méndez. Integrating services that are managed at regional or national level for example can prove to be difficult. In Zaragoza, for example, to integrate the national railways in the citizen card, the local administration had to reach out to the metropolitan consortium of transport as a mediator to find an agreement with the national government.

“We don’t need to try and change the world in one day, we can start with some easy wins,” says Sarasa. Such a win people can easily get behind can be creating a European citizen card for mobility services. Standardisation and interoperability are improving in the sector, and mobility services are increasingly running on the cloud. Many Mobility as a Service companies are already cross-European, so it would make sense to start, for example, with e-scooters or public shared bike systems.

Gijon is exploring another potential quick win, connecting business incubators in different cities. “We have discussed the idea of creating a European project connecting different business incubators,” says González Méndez. “If you are a start-up working in Gijon’s business incubator, you get certain services with your citizen card. The idea would be that if you have a meeting in France, you would be able to go to a business incubator there and use their services.”

Building European citizenship

The possibilities are endless and still need to be explored. Cities like Valladolid and Pau, who participated in the ‘Citizen Card’ lab but don’t have their own card yet, are making plans for the future based on the lessons learned from the lab.

“The city of Valladolid has now embarked on the process of deploying a citizen card,” says Pedro Touya Mata, Innovation Projects Manager at the Agency for Innovation and Economic Development in Valladolid. “The Citizen Card lab has been a very useful experience to take a step back from our own requirements and issues and broaden our vision, taking into account other more advanced cities’ concerns, experiences and best practices. This will help us to head our next steps in the right direction: the interoperability direction.”

Pau has offered to base the development of its card on the principles and the structure drawn in the ‘Citizen Card’ lab report, and will collaborate with Zaragoza to test intercity use. Pau and Zaragoza have been twin cities for thirty years and this project would be an opportunity to reinforce cross-border cooperation. Combining an ongoing European collaboration between Zaragoza University and Pau University to create a cross-border student card and the initiative from Pau’s local authority to create a citizen card, the project hopes to get some funding under the Interreg programme in 2022.

“We want to make the most of existing experiences and initiatives,” says Valérie Demangel, Director of European and International affairs in Pau. “The ‘Citizen Card’ lab is an example of how we can build a European citizenship by exchanging experiences to be used in a very concrete project that will benefit both cities and citizens.”

So far, the ‘Citizen Card’ lab has identified challenges and barriers, and pointed out opportunities to bring its vision of a citizen card to life. There are many steps left, but the wheel is in motion and residents in Pau and other cities might soon have a few less cards in their wallets.

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The ‘Citizen Card’ lab is an initiative of the Knowledge Society forum of Eurocities. The following cities were involved in the lab: Zaragoza (mentor city, with Carlos Alocén and Ana Jiménez as key people helping to build the local and European dimension of the citizen card), Gijon (mentor city), Valladolid, Porto, Bratislava, Pau, Eindhoven, and Rotterdam.

A city leaders agenda for Europe
12 June 2020 - The future of Europe depends on its cities. They are the place where the fight against climate change becomes real, where technological innovation can help boost the digital transformation, and where equal and inclusive societies are made.

That's the message of EUROCITIES second mayors summit on the future of Europe, which launched our 'city leaders agenda for Europe'.

Read more here:

EUROCITIES City Dialogue on mobility measures in response to COVID-19
COVID-19 – Mayors call for European solidarity
COVID-19 – Mayors call for European solidarity