History of the Pact
In December 2019 the mayors of the Visegrad Four capitals (Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava and Budapest) teamed up to establish the Pact of Free Cities. The Pact was signed at a meeting of the four mayors, Zdeněk Hřib, Gergely Karácsony, Rafał Trzaskowski, and Matúš Vallo in Budapest. Although the mayors come from different political backgrounds, they ran for office to demonstrate a better governance model to their citizens and they are united in their determination to stand up for progressive and inclusive values and fight against nationalistic populism.
Furthermore, they recognized that the East-West divide on European affairs including integration represents a false dichotomy; the citizens of progressive, liberal and urban areas are undoubtedly pro-European Union even in states that have been traditionally opposing integration and collaboration.
The EU’s most burning challenges, i.e. the climate crisis, economic competitiveness, digitalization, migration and social inequalities require global responses and deeper integration. Cities’ institutions, and economic and human resources are of paramount importance in responding to these challenges, and the aim of the Pact is to create a platform to help cities coordinate their policies.
The four mayors penned an op-ed that was published by the European Council on Foreign Relations. The Pact’s founding at CEU in Budapest was widely reported in the international press, including in the New York Times, Financial Times, Politico, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Le Monde.