Around 70% of the world population live in urban areas. European cities of all sizes are facing the challenges of rapid urbanisation and social segregation. Next to economic, environmental, energetic and cultural issues, ensuring social cohesion and the well-being of all citizens is amongst the main concerns for city managers. At the European Union level, this is reflected by the Social Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 proposing a variety of tools.
International researchers are currently observing an increase in economic inequality and segregation in European cities. Whilst segregation is often driven by the advantaged, it notably pushes the poorer categories of the population (the unemployed, migrants, single parents, and the elderly) into disadvantaged urban districts. On the other hand and notably in the current refugee crisis, European initiatives, such as the “Intercultural Cities” programme of the Council of Europe, promote the advantage of diversity, based on the assumption that any person, whatever his or her origin or background, has something to offer to society.
The Parliamentary Assembly should explore the trends, causes and consequences of urban socio-economic segregation and define possible lines of action for sustainable urban development fostering social inclusion and cohesion. With their responsibilities in policy areas, such as taxation, social welfare and housing, national governments and parliaments play an important role; they should be urged to adapt their policies to new developments and equip local authorities with the resources needed to address current challenges.