urban populations grow and resources come under strain, there is a growing need
for our cities to be “smarter”, more innovative on transport and telecoms
solutions, more energy efficient, less polluting, and more able to exploit
their diversity to generate long term jobs. Policies need to be adapted to
become more responsive to the needs of small business, especially those with
growth potential. In the current economic climate, businesses in Europe's
cities are reducing overheads and pleading for the elimination of unnecessary
regulatory burdens, while looking for new market opportunities. Meanwhile city
authorities are under pressure to improve efficiency and reduce costs, while
improving service delivery.
and sustainable cities will have very strong international outlooks. Jobs will
be created, and sustained for the long term, by globally competitive businesses
marketing and selling products and services worldwide. Industries running
international businesses find that cities are highly integrated into a global
business culture. The diverse communities in cities provide them with excellent
skills in languages, and experience with the trends, practices, standards and
the regulatory frameworks of other countries. This gives them a competitive
edge in terms of export promotion, marketing and customer service activities.
European Single Market must offer the most open and accessible opportunities
for business growth, and continue to be a magnet for successful cities. In the
Single Market, businesses, particularly SMEs, can exploit consumer or business
demand that can be easily reached through a short journey, where the ability to establish
a business requires a minimum of cost and red tape, and where legal rights and
intellectual property can be safeguarded. Single Market expansion is a lower
risk route for young businesses to build an export infrastructure, before
tackling higher risk opportunities like Brazil or China.
framework for the European Single Market has taken major steps forward over the
last few years, particularly with the opening of the services market.
Enlargement has brought new countries into the Single Market fold. The Prime
Minister has given great leadership, with other likeminded governments, to
promoting the Single Market. The European Parliament instigated a new political
programme, the Single Market Act, which is setting clear targets for all EU
Governments to implement existing Single Market rules, modernise existing
frameworks and tackle obstacles to the digital economy. Right at the top of the
priority list is the need to reduce the bureaucracy that hinders local business
from innovating and stifles competitiveness.
broadband and high speed wireless connections are an indispensable
infrastructure for the modern, globally connected city. Through the optical
fibre, city businesses can deliver high value services anywhere in the world.
They can design, develop and evaluate new products, then market, sell and
need to transform themselves using the same digital technology. Citizens want
better services delivered at lower cost. Education, transport, health, energy,
water and waste are all services where ICT can transform performance. City
dwellers can interact with their service providers and make choices through far
help cities deploy imaginative and innovative solutions, a major reworking of
the EU public procurement rules is underway to simplify the rules and release
the potential of the public purse as a driver of innovation. The centre piece
will be the promotion of new procurement tools that will engage innovative
companies, especially SMEs, in developing more efficient solutions to the
delivery of public policy objectives. The recently adopted EU patent will
underpin all innovation projects by allowing companies to protect inventions at
a much lower cost. The overall impact will enable cities and regions to develop
high value added innovative products and services. (For more information,
see the interview with the author in Science Business)
are looking for city leadership that will focus on meeting new challenges of
job creation and sustainability. They will support those administrations that
are ready to deploy bold solutions. Within the European Union, we have the
knowledge and the capabilities to support city decision makers, and to help
them defray risks by building expert networks with other cities. We must build
partnerships for innovation and growth.
This article has been published in the ResPublica Fringe magazine, a collection of articles and essays from our party conference partners.
Malcolm Harbour will be speaking at ‘A Good Deal: Creating Sustainable
Growth for Cities’, a ResPublica fringe event co-hosted with Core Cities at Conservative
Party Conference: Sunday 7th October, 6.30pm
– 7.45pm, the ResPublica Marquee, the ICC Birmingham (secure zone)