A new association is born to give voice to EU small cities

About a half of Europe’s population lives in towns of between 2,000 and 50,000 inhabitants. For that reason it was absolutely necessary to give a united voice to carry their specific messages to the European institutions. This is the purpose behind the creation of the Confederation of Small Towns and Municipalities of the European Union (CTME), whose president will be the alternate member of the CoR and president of the Midi-Pyrenees Regional Council and of the French association of small towns (APVF), Martin Malvy.

The Confederation of Small Towns and Municipalities of the European Union (CTME) was officially launched in Brussels on 15 February 2011, with the aim to ensure that the voices of Europe’s small and medium-sized towns are heard at European level and that their interests are fully represented.

The CTME manifesto stresses the important role of small and medium-sized towns in the European public area. Closer to the European citizen, they play an essential role in promoting European integration and the transmission of common European values. In a Europe faced with the acceleration and intensification of the trans-border movement of people, goods and services, the construction of the EU will only be possible if the great diversity of situations across the European territory is taken into account. The CTME will contribute to the integration process through the ongoing exchange of information and good practices between Europe’s small towns.

The CTME will also defend their interests on the European stage. In order to avoid becoming victims of the growing urbanisation taking place across the EU, the manifesto states, small towns are keen to increase the recognition of their particular role and identity at a crossroads between large urban conglomerations and rural society. By virtue of their size, small towns have a better capacity to listen to the needs of their citizens and act on them, the manifesto continues. Small cities are also well placed to redefine strategies and growth models that incorporate the principles of social cohesion and sustainable development, as set out in the Lisbon Treaty. As a result, they will play a key role in the future growth of Europe and the definition and implementation of local development projects.

The CTME also points out that a large section of local rules and standards originate from European law. Therefore, it calls for a greater implication of local authorities in the EU decision-making process, particularly in the areas of cohesion policy, internal market, public services and environmental and energy policy – a sentiment that is clearly shared by the Committee of the Regions, which represents all local and regional authorities, including small and medium-sized towns, within the EU decision-making process.

The Confederation brings together eight associations of elected representatives from different European countries, which include small and medium-sized towns in their grouping. The founding associations are: the Deutscher Städte und Gemeindebund (Germany), the Federacion Española de Municipios y Provincias (Spain), TÖOSZ and KÖOESZ (Hungary), the Association des petites villes de France (France), the Associazione Nazionale Comuni Italiani (Italy), the Unia Miasteczek Polskich (Poland) and the Asociatia Oraselor din Romania (Romania).  However, the CTME is looking to rapidly expand its membership to include, in due course, the majority of associations of elected officials representing the small towns of the EU.