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EU Commissioner Ferreira: The future starts here, in the cities of Europe!

It is a great pleasure to address you as part of the Social Summit of Cities. The chosen discussion topics by our organizers are of great importance.
We need a strong social structure, territorial equality, and good cooperation at all levels to face today's challenges. We live in unprecedented times: ongoing inequalities, challenging economic and geopolitical contexts, floods, fires, heatwaves, and other manifestations of climate change. An aging population and regions experiencing a significant brain drain.
These and other trends are shaping Europe and require our action to build a better future, where cities will play a crucial role. Because cities are a key battleground in the fight for social inclusion. All-sized cities are regional anchors and service centers for their regions. And cities are leaders and guides in new ways of life and work, in the green and digital transition, and beyond!
Dear colleagues, the future starts here, in the cities of Europe. And the Cohesion Policy is here to support your investments in the future. Supporting your local strategies, social ambitions, and innovative ideas. First, your local strategies. Cities have many needs, from supporting entrepreneurship and employment to land regeneration, from housing to public services, from local green transportation to connections with smaller rural nodes nearby or the main European networks.
As you know, all these investments - and more - need to be coordinated locally, with the support of local residents. They also need to consider their broader impact on the surrounding areas, contributing to balanced overall development. The new Cohesion Programs have set aside 24 billion euros to support this kind of sustainable urban development, including support for more than 400 Locally Led Development Strategies. Secondly, cohesion is there to support your social ambitions. The new Cohesion Programs are investing almost 20 billion euros in our common priority of "A more social and inclusive Europe." 
Cohesion funds support investments in employment, skills, and social protection, especially for disadvantaged people and disadvantaged areas. And especially for countries that will face serious challenges in the future, whether on the path to green and digital transition or demographic challenges. Thirdly, the Cohesion Policy supports your innovations. New challenges require new thinking, new ideas, and new partnerships.
Through tools such as Urban Innovative Actions or initiatives like the New European Bauhaus, the Cohesion Policy supports testing these new ideas so that successes can be replicated throughout Europe. For example, in the coming years, many cities will struggle to attract, develop, and retain talent. Therefore, as part of our Talent Boosting Mechanism, we have launched a call for projects that test new solutions for talent utilization in shrinking cities.
I will close by saying that we know times are tough. And we know that the cities of Europe will be called upon to show leadership in these challenging times. So, your discussions today, and in the years to come, are crucial for our future. And you can rely on the Cohesion Policy to support your investments, your local strategies, your social investments, and your innovative actions that pave the way for the future of Europe. /
*Speech by the EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira