International cities conference on the Corona crisis

The City of Vienna hosted this year’s annual meeting of Chief Executive Directors under the motto "The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our cities - challenges for administrations".

Screenshot from the video conference of the Chief Executive Directors

Due to the Corona pandemic, this year’s annual meeting of Chief Executive Directors could not be held in Lisbon as originally planned. Upon initiative of Vienna’s Chief Executive Director Erich Hechtner, participants decided to hold a video conference instead.

The following question was at the centre of the discussion: "What are the greatest challenges of the current crisis faced by our neighbours and European partners?"

About 20 cities took part in the online conference and shared their views on the current situation. Participants discussed and presented strategies on a broad range of issues. Topics included major challenges for city administrations, mobility rates, testing, current numbers of ill persons or hospitalisations. Participants also exchanged practical experiences and offered useful tips and advice.

Shared challenges

The meeting showed that all cities were faced with similar challenges at the beginning of the crisis, such as the bundling of resources, a need to boost digitalisation or switching city administrations to home office mode. Simultaneously, hospitals had to be prepared and equipped for the pandemic and infection chains had to be broken.

Another challenge was that the information chain with the national governments was not always working very well. In many cases, the Chief Executive Directors were presented with a fait accompli when it came to the implementation of measures.

Different crisis management strategies

Although the participating cities, such as Athens, Paris or Tallinn, have applied different approaches to handle the crisis, they all agreed that social solidarity was the most vital tool against the pandemic.

Chief Executive Director Erich Hechtner described the City of Vienna’s response to the crisis: "We have successfully presented Vienna’s set of measures, innovations and key activities at the meeting. The strategies applied in Vienna - testing suspected cases at home or in drive-through test centres, the use of gargle tests, our restaurant vouchers, but also our focus on 'safe municipal elections' and vulnerable groups - have met with great interest. This meeting has demonstrated once again the diversity of European solutions and has shown how important it is to engage in an exchange among city administrations not only on the national but also on the international level."

Next meeting

The next meeting of Chief Executive Directors is scheduled to be held in Lisbon in October or November 2021.

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Chief Executive Office - European and International Affairs
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