Mayors from 12 European capital cities will today join the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for discussions on how they can forge stronger links to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time, with a particular focus on countering the rise of violent extremism, including from the far right.
London is today hosting for the first time ever, the European Union Capital City Mayors Summit. As well as discussing shared concerns, Sadiq will use the meeting to remind his counterparts that even if the UK does eventually leave the European Union, London will always consider itself to be a proud European city.
At today’s meeting at City Hall, Mayors including the Mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski, the Mayor of Berlin Michael Muller, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Paul McAuliffe and the Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema will pledge to work with the European Commission and national governments to provide solutions for global problems including climate change and countering the rise of violent extremism. The meeting will also be attended by senior representatives from six other European capital cities.
With the far right on the rise across Europe and the world, the meeting will include a discussion led by renowned American academic George Selim on an urgent and growing priority for all European cities – how best to counter the rise of violent extremism.
Today’s meeting coincides with the publication of a major new report by the Mayor of London that sets out opportunities to better strengthen communities, safeguard vulnerable groups and stop the spread of extremist ideology. This report is the most comprehensive listening exercise of this policy area ever, hearing from marginalised communities, disempowered women and young people.
This research found that communities say they look to the Mayor and City Hall for leadership, and today Sadiq has announced new investment of £1 million to fund a new Countering Violence Extremism Programme, a small grants programme for civil society groups and radicalisation awareness learning for key groups working with vulnerable Londoners. This is in addition to £400,000 previously invested by the Mayor to tackle violent extremism.
The report recognises that City Hall cannot solve violent extremism on its own and calls on the Government to reverse cuts which have forced local authorities to reduce youth provision and community services and invest more in schemes that encourage and support communities to stand up to extremism.
Khan will also reiterate to his counterparts that despite Brexit, London will always be open to those who want to visit, study or work here.
London is home to more than one million EU citizens and Sadiq will reassure the European Mayors that whatever happens these people can always consider London to be their home and that they belong here.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said, “This is the very first time that London has ever held a summit like this, so I am truly honoured to welcome to City Hall today so many Mayors from across Europe. This is an unparalleled opportunity to share ideas about how we can tackle common challenges such as combatting climate change and countering the rise of violent extremism.
“The rise of the far right in the UK and across the globe is a growing threat to us all. They’re gaining ground and winning power in places that seemed unimaginable not too long ago. I am therefore pleased to announce today an extra £1m to combat this scourge in London and that we are able to discuss ways to stop the spread of these vile ideologies with so many Mayors and city leaders.
“With the continuing uncertainty caused by Brexit, I’ll also be extending the warm hand of friendship to my counterparts – reminding them London will always be open. We will always consider ourselves proud Europeans, living in a European city and those who have made their home here will always be welcome.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Mayors will look to issue a joint declaration to highlight how European cities are uniquely positioned to achieve change.
In particular, they will emphasise their ambition to tackle hatred and intolerance by renewing and improving countering violent extremism activity across Europe.
They will also reiterate the role of cities in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change and addressing the climate emergency and call on governments across the continent to commit to a long-term climate strategy with the objective of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.
In addition, they will call on the European Commission to nominate a new Vice-President with responsibility for urban affairs.
The Mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema said, “London and Amsterdam are two global cities and we have so much in common. I am pleased to be in London today to meet Sadiq Khan and Mayors from across Europe. I am looking forward to meeting colleagues with different ideas and discussing with them how we can solve problems that citizens in all European cities face, such as the rise of violent extremism. I know Sadiq Khan is championing London at home and abroad – and it is reassuring that whatever happens with Brexit, he wants London to play a key role in the future of the continent.”
The Mayor of Berlin, Michael Muller said, “London is, and remains, an excellent host for a discussion of the questions we as EU capital cities will face in the future. We expect the new European Commission to put an even greater emphasis on the urban dimension in its policymaking. All large cities are dealing with issues like the lack of affordable housing, how to shape the transition to mobility that is modern, efficient, and sustainable, and the need for an expanded public infrastructure – especially in view of the worldwide surge in urban populations.”
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Paul McAuliffe said, “There are almost 100,000 Irish people living in London and it is reassuring to know that in Sadiq Khan they have a Mayor who appreciates their huge contribution to this city.
“London and Dublin have a long and shared history, written by the people of our cities, who share a desire to be open and increasingly progressive. Regardless of the changes ahead London will remain an strong ally of Mayors across Europe as we tackle the challenges of climate change, violent extremism and inequality in our cities.”