EUROCITIES from 1986 to present day

The origins of EUROCITIES can be traced back to 1986, when a conference organised in Rotterdam on ‘the city, the engine behind economic recovery’ brought together representatives from 11 big cities alongside academics and industrialists. Followed three years later by another major conference in Barcelona in 1989, this signalled the emergence of a core group of six ‘second’ cities which were instrumental in establishing the network: Barcelona, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Lyon, Milan and Rotterdam.

The group of cities was driven forward by a three key factors: a clear urban focus; sharp political thinking; and existing relationships with the European Community institutions. The commitment of the cities to promoting an integrated urban model in Europe led them to set up ad hoc working groups on economic and social themes, and a third conference in Lyon in 1990.

This was the impetus to set up a more formal network. On the initiative of Birmingham’s leading councillor for economic and European affairs, Albert Bore, the core group adopted a set of rules of association in 1991. The rules established membership criteria – ‘open to major metropolitan cities of the member states of the European Community’ – set fees, an executive committee and agreed to set up a secretariat in Brussels. The first Brussels office, headed by Kate Stephens, was opened in 1992 by Commissioner Bruce Millan for regional policy and cohesion.

By 1996, membership had grown to over 70 cities. Deep, underlying trends such as the decline of mass manufacturing and an increasingly globalised world, and with the European Union becoming a more significant political and economic influence, its cities were keen to have their voices heard on a European stage.

Strong leadership from city mayors such as Rotterdam’s Bram Peper and Leipzig’s Wolfgang Tiefensee and links with the European institutions helped the network to grow in both size and in influence over the years. When former EUROCITIES secretary general Paul Bevan took over from Catherine Parmentier in November 2008, he found an organisation of nearly 30 staff, six forums and more than 40 working groups. He commented, “we are keeping a massive machine going.” Anna Lisa Boni replaced Paul Bevan in June 2014. She said at the time, "we want to be the go-to network for European institutions on urban affairs." Anna Lisa Boni has worked hard to make the case for an EU urban agenda, bringing better coordination of EU policies that impact on cities, and strengthening cities' involvement in developing these.  


EUROCITIES presidents

Unless specified otherwise, the dates go from November to November each year.

2018 - present: Stockholm, Anna KÖNIG JERLMYR

2016 - 2018: Ghent, Daniël TERMONT

2014 - 2016:  Nantes, Johanna ROLLAND

2012 - 2014:  Warsaw, Hanna GRONKIEWICZ-WALTZ

2010 - 2012: Copenhagen, Frank JENSEN

2008 - 2010: The Hague, Jozias van AARTSEN

2006 - 2008: Lyon, Gérard COLLOMB

2004 - 2006: Manchester, Sir Richard LEESE

2002 - 2004: Leipzig, Wolfgang TIEFENSEE

2000 - 2002: Helsinki, Eva-Riitta SIITONEN

1998 - 2000: Bilbao

Josu ORTUONDO LARREA (from Nov 1998 to Jul 1999)

Iñaki AZKUNA URRETA (from Jul 1999 to Nov 2000)

1996 - 1998: Rotterdam, Bram PEPER

1994 - 1996: Bologna, Walter VITALI

1992 - 1994: Lisbon, Jorge SAMPAIO

1990 - 1992: Frankfurt am Main

Volker HAUFF (from Nov 1990 to May 1991)

Andreas von SCHOELER (from May 1991 to Nov 1992)


Read more about our history in ‘Developing Europe’s urban model’ by Jon Bloomfield here.