In its Communication “Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy”, the Commission identified the Smart Cities Initiative for energy efficiency and for accelerating large scale deployment of innovative low carbon technologies. On 4 February 2011, the European Council invited the Commission to launch an Industrial Initiative inter alia on ‘energy saving solutions in cities’. In line with this guidance, the Smart Cities and Communities Initiative will initially rely on the organisational framework of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET)-Plan. In a next step, the Commission plans to create a stakeholder forum gathering the various stakeholders in this area and structuring their dialogue and their contribution to the initiative. At a later stage, the initiative may evolve into a European Innovation Partnership as envisaged by the Commission’s Communication on the Innovation Union of 6 October 2010. Stakeholders are invited to contribute to an online Consultation up to May 13, 2011.

It should be noted that another, related public consultation is ongoing i.e. the consultation on the “Common Strategic Framework for  research and innovation funding at EU level”. It proposes a new approach to design programmes to achieve better value for money, stronger impact and easier participation rules. Such programmes may be used in the future to support Smart Cities and Communities.
The consultation was launched on 9 February and will remain open until 20 May 2011.