Horizontal and Vertical Collaboration within the Urban Agenda for the EU

Cities are becoming more important on the global level. As the world is rapidly urbanizing, global challenges are increasingly being caused and dealt with in the world’s cities. In recent years, cities have taken up their global role by collaborating through a multitude of horizontal networks: collaborative settings where cities come together to pursue common goals and learn from each other’s practices, in order to catalyze urban action. The rise of these networks demonstrates the great potential of cities to collectively tackle issues on a global scale.

Nonetheless, such ‘horizontal’ forms of collaboration also remain limited: as a local form of government, cities are always ‘vertically’ dependent upon higher levels of government for resources and regulation. This is why the recently raised Urban Agenda for the EU forms such an important development. As an innovative EU working method, the Urban Agenda for the EU strives to give cities a place in the multi-level processes of EU governance, by organizing multi-level (i.e. both horizontal and vertical) collaborations between cities, member states, the Commission and other stakeholders.

To understand the potential of this working method and its realization in practice, we argue that it is essential to further explore this multi-level dynamic, by asking the following question:

How do horizontal and vertical forms of collaboration within the Urban Agenda for the EU interact,  and how does that dynamic affect the role of cities within the EU?

In the upcoming months, we will investigate this question by conducting an empirical research into the practice of the Urban Agenda for the EU. The research project will run from May to December 2017, and will primarily be undertaken by Suzanne Potjer, PhD candidate at the Urban Futures Studio. The research on the Urban Agenda for the EU will be done in collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. It will result in an applied research report as well as an academic article.

For more information on the research project, please contact Suzanne Potjer.