From Thessaloniki to Riga, the phenomenon of metropolitan areas
On 17 and 18 October 2017, urban policymakers and delegates of the competent ministers (from the North to the South of Europe) came together to engage in discussion in Thessaloniki, Macedonia (Greece) on the democratic management of metropolitan areas or capital cities, at the request of the Greek Minister for the Interior.
After speeches by Greek local and regional policymakers, the speakers concentrated on how to reconcile economic and social needs, in view of citizens’ demands for transparency and democracy. The discussions highlighted the absence of a ‘turnkey’ solution. Some unavoidable principles were, however, identified with a view to providing the population with optimal services: efficiency, proximity, transparency and meeting public service needs, and also cooperation with businesses and service providers. Two employees of the Regional Public Service of Brussels represented the Brussels-Capital Region at this meeting. Olivier Filot (Brussels local authorities) detailed the specific features of cooperation and innovation in Brussels. Paul-Henri Philips (Brussels International) explained the start and imminent end of the Agglomération bruxelloise, created in 1971. New ideas were mentioned (in particular the use of information and communication technologies) and hopes were voiced. Without a doubt, this meeting will be followed by others in order to achieve specifically European ‘models’. Watch that space …