Adopted by the CoR plenary: 11 May 2017

Key points:

  • Calls for a specific partnership dedicated to health to be launched under the Urban Agenda for the EU
  • Calls to study and analyse the determinants of health, looking at health in cities in the round and assessing the opportunities and issues resulting from increased life expectancy, a review of welfare mechanisms would be necessary
  • Calls to frame policies that ensure healthy and active ageing in good physical and mental wellbeing, social life and relationships and encourage involvement in the city’s leisure activities and intergenerational programmes
  • Encourages designing transport and planning/land use policies according to a sustainable mobility hierarchy that prioritises incentives and measures to make active mobility on foot or by bicycle safer and more attractive and also encourages multimodal public transport
  • Urges that action be taken directly on environmental and climate-related factors to cut risks of developing physical diseases, and mental illnesses, which develop in urban contexts
  • Recommends the greatest possible attention be given to the importance of adopting a healthy diet, through precise guidelines that take account of the different contexts and different target populations; recommends to all local and regional authorities to use report on the Public Procurement of Food for Health to better integrate health and nutrition into food procurement specifications
  • Given the growing evidence on the positive correlation between physical activity and mental health and cognitive processes in this regard, calls on the local and regional authorities to collect and share their good practice examples to inspire, lead and learn
  • Calls on the European Commission to accentuate cooperation with national, regional and local authorities geared to broadening and improving access to playful sport activities for everyone – for all age groups and all ability levels
  • Promotes and reinforces cooperation between the health and education sectors and local communities, creating a network of health practitioners and school teachers in order to establish clear guidelines for health
  • Calls for more support to be given to local initiatives to inform people about primary prevention programmes and to encourage them to join them; calls for support for scientifically tested secondary prevention programmes for the public, which involve institutions and education services
  • Calls for the forging of a strong alliance between municipalities, universities, healthcare companies, research centres, businesses, professionals and charities to study and monitor at urban level the determinants of citizens’ health, so as to create a more effective and responsive multilevel governance to improve regional and cohesion policy

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Text of the opinion

I never tire repeating this old adage 'prevention is better than cure'. Where better to integrate this mantra into real policies if not in urban areas given that we estimate that by 2020, almost 80% of EU citizens will be living in cities? Health and lifestyle equipment such as pedestrian zones and cycle paths or food procurement schemes for schools and healthier canteens are often in the hands of the municipalities and regions.

Also, it is in our regions that we are particularly well situated to address health inequalities by reaching out to young mothers, women on lower incomes, ethnic minorities and the elderly. These are groups that do not always benefit from equal access to health promotion initiatives. Locally developed projects can make real difference involving community actors such as social workers, midwives, chefs, charities and hopefully more and more businesses bringing about real, sustainable change.

The more EU cities and regions work together, learning from each other, the more we can all benefit from targeted, modern, sustainable community action that brings us all together to promote healthier lifestyles and live longer in a better health.

Vytenis Andriukaitis
EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety

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