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Major EU Cities Call for Post-Brexit Rethink to Stop Growing 'Disconnect'

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More than a hundred leaders of major European cities have written an open letter calling for a radical rethink of the European project to prevent a "growing disconnect" between citizens and the EU, which they see as being "shaken at its foundations," by the Brexit vote.

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Mayors and leaders of more than a hundred major European cities have called on European and national leaders stop Europe "sleepwalking into further problems in other cities, regions and member states" as Brussels loses touch with the vast populations of European cities, such as Berlin, Paris, Lisbon, Rome and Athens. 

The city leaders issued an open letter urging their European and national counterparts to work in partnership with cities to ensure a positive future for Europe, and inviting them to a Summit of Mayors in Brussels, March 2017, to discuss how to work together.

"There is a growing disconnect between citizens and the EU institutions. We need to rethink the way we do things in Europe. Europe has many achievements of which we should be proud: enduring peace, greater wealth and solidarity. But it is being shaken at its foundations, by the Brexit vote, by growing euroskepticism and the rise of movements that stoke fear and disillusionment across Europe," the letter states.

City Problems, City Power

Many of the biggest problems facing Europe are concentrated in cities, where 75 percent of the continent's population lives. Unemployment, climate change, air pollution, refugee integration and social inclusion are challenges cities deal with on a daily basis, the leaders said.

​The signatories wrote: "We must learn the lessons of the Brexit vote. Failure to do so could leave us sleepwalking into further problems in other cities, regions and member states. If Europe is truly committed to delivering inclusive growth, it must equip cities with the tools to connect people and places to growth and wealth.

"Citizens want to see results. We aren't going to convince them with ten-point plans or clever marketing. We need to understand their concerns and visions, and work with them to build a stronger, more relevant and legitimate Europe. As the level of government closest to citizens, we as cities can provide that crucial link," Johanna Rolland, mayor of Nantes and outgoing Eurocities president said.

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