Covenant of Mayors celebrates 10th anniversary

Covenant of Mayors celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018, and with the 2020 milestone coming closer, the Covenant Ceremony and Investment Forum in Brussels were perfect occasions for to reinforce the ideas behind this organization.

Since 2008, the Covenant of Mayors Ceremony is a political event that gathers the Covenant of Mayors Community. It is used to showcase how local governments develop integrated climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, transport or lighting, make greater use of renewable energy, and brace for climate hazards.

At the ceremony in Brussels, mayors explored how those achievements can be scaled up to help meet or exceed the EU energy and climate objectives. This was a perfect opportunity to network with EU decision makers and relevant stakeholders taking part in the world’s largest energy and climate initiative of its kind.

Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy congratulated all participants on their involvement in this process and stated that “more than 1000 local governments have already committed to the Covenant 2030 targets”.

Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence emphasized the importance of this gathering, noting that “over 600 European mayors came to Brussels to discuss the transition towards climate change and resilient cities.” He reiterated: “Our cities can shape entire communities”.

CEO of Climate – KIC, Kirsten Dunlop reminded everyone that “the decisions that cities take now will lock us into an unsustainable future, or will create the demands for the necessary innovations which can solve climate challenges.”

The meeting in Brussels had several sessions and side-events, some of which tackled the most pressing issues that we face today. In the Committee of the Regions participants discussed energy efficiency with Bertrand Piccard (Solar Impulse) which included speed dating with innovators; building on local climate and energy for transformative EU action; smart cities – from stories to implementation; making climate adaptation a profitable investment for the cities. Below you can watch the recording from the side event on Smart Cities:

Behind the Scenes: the New Europa Building of the European Council

Before the President of the European Council and national delegations move into the new Council building in January 2017, Europolitan Trends had a chance to visit the new Europa building of the Council.

Below we bring you some of the highlights.

The Need for the New

There are a few things that come to mind when you think of the European Council. Namely, the European Council is the EU institution, which steers priorities of the European Union. It consists of the heads of state or government of the EU member states, President of the Council, and the President of the Commission. On the other hand, the Council of the EU or the EU Council is the institution representing the governments of the EU member states. National ministers meet in the EU Council in order to coordinate policies and adopt laws. The European Council and the Council of the European Union have the same seat.

As a consequence of the EU enlargement in 2004, the EU leaders decided to host the summits in Brussels rather than in member states. This decision was largely influenced by the need to save the costs. As a consequence, better facilities in Brussels were needed. After all, the old Justus Lipsius building was not constructed for hosting the summits. Moreover, the new building had to provide necessary levels of security, while reflecting on the concept of sustainability.

At the time when the Council looked into expanding, the Block A of the Residence Palace was available. Residence Palace - a beautiful Art Deco building from the beginning of 1920s - was converted after the Second World War into offices for several Belgian governmental departments. The City of Brussels suggested to the Council to acquire the Block A of the Residence Palace.

The Europa Building

The Europa building consists of the original L-shaped Residence Palace block A, and the glass addition - these now form a brick shaped building. The glass facade consists of a patchwork of restored wooden window frames from various demolition sites from all over EU. This is believed to encourage sustainable development and to promote cultural diversity, while also adding a layer of isolation. On the other hand, the glass facade also supports the EU motto of the ‘united in diversity’ - all windows are different, but similar. Inside this space, a lantern-like sphere has been created. This is where the main meeting rooms are. It is interesting to note that the lantern-shaped sphere served as the inspiration for the current logo of the Council. This atrium feature is the most visible at night when lit by 374 LED tubes. A nice addition into this modern and airy space are different combinations of colored squares on the floors, ceilings, doors and walls. We believe that this gives a space a less serious note and relaxes the visitors.

As of the beginning of 2017 the new building will host EU, multilateral and ministerial summits. However, most of the offices will stay in the old buildings of Justus Lipsius and Lex. The new ‘patchwork’ building forms a unified area with the other two buildings of the Council: Justus Lipsius and Lex.

Construction started in 2011
Artist: Georges Meurant
11 floors above & 3 floors below the ground
3,750 windows in the glass facade
374 LED lights illuminate the lantern
16 meeting rooms
3 conference rooms
250 offices


My morning today started with a tasty cup of coffee and a croissant, while listening to Peteris Zilgalvis, Head of Unit at DG CONNECT. He challenged the audience at the monthly Creative Mornings event to think of more design in ethical issues, especially in areas such as health and well-being. To be honest, I haven’t paid attention to the idea of eHealth until now. Zilgalvis encouraged me to take a closer look at it.

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