The meeting in Bristol gave ministers a chance to discuss the idea of creating "sustainable communities" in the EU as a whole, i.e. areas where citizens enjoy efficient administration, relevant services and a well thought-out urban structure. In order to develop this concept at EU level, ministers signed the "Bristol Agreement", which specifies the characteristics of a sustainable community and includes a commitment to carry out case studies on best practice.
These studies should help identify "solutions to common problems that are both supple and transferable from one place to another" - solutions that could serve as an inspiration for towns throughout the EU. They will be presented and discussed at a symposium in November 2006 in Leeds, the aim of which is to develop the skills needed to create a sustainable community. This symposium could also mark the first step in a European cooperation programme for developing skills. The ministers also pledged euro 150,000 in support of this symposium.
A decision was also reached to set up a panel of experts to look into ways of maximising the impact of loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The group will be made up of representatives from the member states, the EIB and the Commission. The aim is to improve the quality rather that the quantity of EIB supported projects. The group's role was defined in Bristol as follows:
- to analyse EIB experience in financing and lending to urban projects for the development of sustainable communities...