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The future of Europe and the role of cities

During the time of Brexit limbo dance, Cambridge University invited us, Cambridge alumni, to discuss the Future of the European Union. I was invited to give a speech as a Chairman of the Forum on Europe, which me and my partners have organised for fifteen times, the last one in European Parliament in 2014. As a Cambridge invitee in the year of 2017, I presented the case of cities & digital governance platforms as enablers of prosperity for Europe.


Today we live in a complex world in which the only certainty is constant change. New emerging actors progress and many traditional ones get blocked by their commodity traps or non-responsive actions for the citizens’ needs. Who could ever imagine that Pope of the Catholic church could be a progressive societal innovator on one side and the President of the USA the biggest threat to international peace and positive global response to climate change. It is evident today that governance systems, which were supposed to provide good quality services for people & businesses, do not respond fast enough and deep enough. The 4th industrial revolution has highlighted the major global trends and the complex future of work. A present-day challenge for EU governance system is how to maintain EU leadership in policy innovation while simultaneously safe-guarding the traditional EU agenda such as the respect for the rule of law, protection of human rights, and solidarity. How to deal with the challenges, following good governance principles, when mitigating the social risks is of great relevance for policy makers. Opening key note speech, delivered by H.E. UK Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston QC, challenged the audience with a question: ‘’What is more important for the future of the European Union: Brexit or the EU Refugee Crisis?’’.


UK Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston QC with millennials’ representative talking about Syrian refugee crisis and their integration into European cities at Cambridge University in 2017. Photo: personal archive B. Golob.


In the next 20 years, 80% of world population will live in cities, which, alongside other new actors, will have a significant impact on the prosperity of individuals. The EU recognised the importance of sustainable urbanization of cities with its EU Urban agenda. Safeguarding the public space and European standard of living represents one of its key pillars. Cities are moving ahead irrespective of the destabilising influences in many national governments. How seriously city mayors took the refugee crisis was reflected also by the establishment of the 1st task force group under the EU Urban agenda. First stakeholders group is related to Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees in the European cities. The following two groups were Air Quality and Housing and Urban Poverty.


EU Urban Agenda in sync with the development of EU Digital single market and next EU framework programme on Research and Innovation is a good opportunity for a synchronized policy platform that could enable further prosperity of the EU. The question addressed at the conference was Do we have sufficient governance systems in place and digital tools available to safeguard the values of millennials’ generation? From the value point of view, according to World Economic Survey 2017 the highest ranking is the question of Climate Change. From the new economic & business models development point of view, the role of data as a fuel of new economy in cities provoked further discussions during the tea-breaks. Five pillars model of SmartCityPlatform with its vision of ‘’Power to the People’’ was very well received by academic, legal professionals, and business community. Two days spent in a remarkable place of Cambridge marked the optimistic look to the Future of the European Union and ‘’extraordinarily relaxed’’ approach of Cambridge Faculty of Law Chairman, Professor Richard Fentiman, when being asked to provide legal opinion to UK Government after the mess with Brexit limbo dance. His only advice was: ‘’Do nothing’’. The fact is that UK politicians messed up big time, despite the fact that EU and cities in many places around the world are moving ahead in providing economic prosperity and wellbeing for their citizens. Next destination is the 7th Ljubljana Forum on Future of Cities – THE CITY OF WELLBEING, which will take place on September 28th-29th. You are kindly invite to participate or follow us at www.ljubljanaforum.org.

The concept of Smart City, supported by digital governance platform. Source: SmartIScity Ltd. 2017.


More about the BLC Cambridge 25th Anniversary celebration and the event’s speakers can be found at: https://britishlawcentre.co.uk/news/blc-25th-anniversary-conference-cambridge-september-2017/.


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