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Political Advisory Committee

Influencing policy on European urban transport

The Political Advisory Committee (PAC) is a small group of leading and highly motivated politicians that acts as the steering group of the CIVITAS initiative and network of cities.

The main activities PAC members are responsible for are:

  1. Delivering policy recommendations;
  2. Reinforcing the liaison between the EC and the CIVITAS network of cities as well as the CIVINET national and regional networks;
  3. Evaluating the city host applications for the yearly CIVITAS Conference among the candidate cities and providing input for the agenda of the Conference;
  4. Taking part in key CIVITAS activities such as study tours, peer reviews and thematic working groups;
  5. Ensuring and strengthening the involvement of local Politicians from CIVITAS cities in the CIVITAS activities;
  6. Advise and support the organization of CIVITAS core activities.

PAC members meet three times a year. The current PAC was selected in July 2018 and will serve until 2020. The last meeting took place during the CIVITAS Forum, in Graz (Austria) on 2 October 2019.


PAC Statements

Statements constitute one of the PAC's most important outputs. Often taking the form of policy recommendations, these contribute to the work of policy makers working in urban mobility at European, national and local level. They also support the identification of CIVITAS's policy priorities and seek to mobilise industry, transport operators, and other stakeholders.

PAC Members

Members of the new Political Advisory Committee (PAC), which was constituted in September 2018, are listed below. The current CIVITAS PAC is Dejan Crnek, Vice-Mayor of Ljubljana (Slovenia).

Adelheid Byttebier
Alderman for Mobility of Schaerbeek

Adelheid Byttebier has been living in Schaerbeek, one of the 19 communes in the city of Brussels, for 33 years. She has been committed to a better city and planet all her life. 

She serves as an alderman for the commune, with her portfolio covering mobility and Dutch-language education, youth and culture.

With a new mobility plan, bicycle brigade and school streets, among other things, she wants to work on more road safety in the municipality.

She remains committed to Dutch-language facilities with, among other things, a municipal daycare center, youth internships and secondary schools.

Philip Broeksma
Vice Mayor of Groningen

Born in 1958, Philip Broeksma is Vice Mayor of Groningen, the largest municipality in the Northern Netherlands. He is responsible for Mobility, Energy Transition, and Digital Innovation.

He was was born in Hengelo and studied mathematics and computer science in Groningen. After various management positions at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, he was an Alderman for four years in Winsum and then became a faculty directory at the University of Groningen.

He has extensive experience with renewable energy and green logistics; themes that suit the municipality of Groningen. 

Broeksma is father of five (step, foster and own) children and now also grandfather. He likes photography and music and regularly goes to football matches with his daughter.

Marino Garfagnoli
Advisor for Tourism Promotion of Elba

Marino Garfagnoli was born in 1960 in the mining town of Rio Marina on Elba Island (Italy)- He graduated in Geography at Florence University presenting a work in the field of water protection and management.

Since he has been young, he has been active in environmental movements and when young became a member of the local Green Party. Since the island’s National Park was established in 1997, he can be considered as one of its main promoters and was elected a council member in 2000, which he remains to this day.

He was a municipal administrator of the town of Portoferraio from 2005 to 2009 (for public transport, environment and culture).

He has been working as a CEO in the field of naturalistic and outdoor tourism and environmental education since 1989. He is currently an advisor in the municipality of Portoferraio on Elba Island for tourism promotion.

Miguel Bandeira
Deputy Mayor for Urban Regeneration, Traffic and Mobility of Braga

Since 2013, Miguel Sopas de Melo Bandeira has been Braga's Deputy Mayor for Urban Regeneration, Traffic and Mobility, Heritage, Universities, Urbanism, and Urban Planning.

He is an Associate Professor with Habilitation in the Institute of Social Sciences - University of Minho - where he was President (2010-2013) and Vice-President (2003-2010).

He graduated in Geography at the University of Porto in 1982, received a master's degree at the University of Coimbra in 1993, and completed a PhD at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Minho  in 2002.

Among the several positions held at the university, he was Secretary General of the Foundation for the Studies Center of the Galicia-Northern Portugal Euroregion, effective researcher of the Studies Center in Geography and Planning and associated with the Studies Center in Communication and Society - University of Minho.

He has particular interest in the areas of urban studies and urban planning, mobility, cultural studies/history, cultural and natural heritage. He teaches undergraduate architecture, planning, and other social sciences at the University of Minho.

He is the President of the Municipal Transport Authority and President of the Administration of the Municipal Company of Urban Transport - TUB E. M.

He is a Member of the Board of the Portuguese Association of Cities with a Historical Centre and was a member of the Portuguese Association of Municipal Housing (2013/17). He is also a voluntary and a very active member of several community associations.

Maria Androutsou
Mayor of Agios Dimitrios

Maria Androutsou studied Physics and holds a master’s degree in Statistics. She became the Mayor of the city of Agios Dimitrios – Attica (Greece) in 2011 for the first time and until today she has been re-elected for two additional terms, with the most recent coming in June 2019.  

During her mayoral term, she has linked the name of Agios Dimitrios with city sustainable development after publishing the Sustainable Development Report according to GRI Standards, the United Nations Global Compact and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2016.

Agios Dimitrios is the first city in Greece - and one of few in Europe - to have taken the initiative of that project.

As a mayor, she achieved a fundamental paradigm shift by transforming the Sustainability Development Report of Agios Dimitrios from a mere publication into a true commitment under which the "municipality’s function as a whole complies with the strategic pillars of sustainable development (environment, society, governance and finance, infrastructure, and employees."

During her time in Agios Dimitrios, she has successfully realised many infrastructure projects which promote walkability, pedestrian and road safety, inclusive mobility and traffic calming.

Under her leadership, Agios Dimitrios has joined the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, participated in the European Charter for Equality of women and men in local life, and committed to the United Nations Global Compact. The latter sees signatories align their functions according to the 10 UN principles on human rights. 

Maria Androutsou aspires to support the cooperation between European cities; to implement  EU sustainable mobility policies; to enhance mutual understanding, fruitful knowledge sharing and collaboration; and to find solutions to urban mobility problems by promoting citizen awareness and participation.




Guenter Riegler
Councillor of Culture, Science and Finance of Graz

Dr. Guenter Riegler was born in 1966. He is a Tax Consultant and Auditor currently Councillor of Culture, Science and Finance of the City of Graz (Austria). He has a Ph.D in Business Administration.

Throughout his professional career, he has been interested in understanding the logic and limits of public management and public choice, especially the reasons for market failure and the exploitation of public goods.

In previous positions as director of the Graz Court of revision (2004-2011) or as Director of FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Sciences (2011-2017)) he had the opportunity to understand the problems and challenges of urban planning, the logics of decision making in the public sector and the importance of a supranational political efforts in solving these problems.

In his current position as City Councillor of Science, Culture, and Finance of the City of Graz, he is supporting efforts towards smart urban planning and decarbonisation of public  of transport.

Furthermore, he is working on raising public awareness for topics such as urbanisation, climate change and digitalisation, which is the focus of the “Graz Cultural Year 2020“.

Claudio De Santi
Councilor for Property and Heritage, Commerce and Production Activities, Communication, Contributions and Community Funding of Elba

Claudio De Santi is 63 years old. Although he was born in Florence, he has adopted Elba island as his new home.

He graduated in Architecture, with a Master’s degree in bio-architecture. He is the Administrator of the Iris Costruzioni s.r.l and the San Giovanni srl companies. These are both Florence-based companies that deal with civil and industrial building and restructuring as well as monuments, plants and roads restoration.

In Elba, he owns tourism companies. Following his election as Mayor of Rio nell’Elba Town Council in May 2014, he actively contributed to the administrative merger between the two Municipalities of Rio nell’Elba and Rio Marina. This finally occurred in September 2017.

In March 2019 the Mayor of Portoferraio, Mario Ferrari, appointed De Santi as Councilor for Property and Heritage, Commerce and Production Activities, Communication, Contributions and Community Funding.

He is currently involved in CIVITAS DESTINATIONS and he was in charge in the organisation of the periodical project meeting held in Elba in April 2019.

As a firm supporter of sustainable development and mobility rationalization on the island of Elba, he has became one of the political reference points in CIVTAS DESTINATIONS.

George Marinakis
Mayor of Rethymno

George Marinakis has been a lawyer since 1982 and became the Mayor of the Municipality of Rethymno (Greece) in 2007.

During his mayoral term, he has focused on sustainable development and placed an emphasis on improving infrastructure and mobility measures like traffic calming and accessibility for all.

He led the coordination of Rethymno's first local Sustainable Development Plan, which was created using a cross-party and multidisciplinary philosophy and led to the creation of the city’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan, which included sustainable mobility as a priority pillar.

Under his leadership, Rethymno has also participated in the European Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities, joined the Covenant of Mayors, its Mayors Adapt initiative, and the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.

In addition, during his time in office Rethymno has been one of the founding members of the recently established CIVINET Greece–Cyprus and became the first Greek CIVITAS demonstration city as one of the six cities in the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project.

As a member of the PAC, he aims to reinforce cooperation between CIVITAS cities, support the implementation of EU policies towards safer, cleaner and inclusive mobility, strengthen the links among European policy bodies and local public authorities, and create a common vision and understanding of urban mobility problems and solutions that focusing on engaging new generations and active citizen participation.

Enrico Stefano
Chairman of the Transport Committee of Roma

Enrico Stefano has been a City Councillor in Rome since 2013. In 2016, he was elected Chairman of the Transport Committee.  

The Transport Committee in the Italian capital defines the guidelines that the Mayor acts by for the most important political decisions and topics relating to transport.

He has a Master’s degree in Law, as well as one in Space Law. He has also previously worked for the Italian Space Agency.

Vasilena Mitsiadi
Vice Mayor of Technical Services and Infrastructure of Trikala

Vasilena Mitsiadi was born in 1981 in Trikala, a small city in the mainland of Greece.

She graduated from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki as a Mechanical Engineer and gained a master degree in Quality Assurance. She worked as a freelance engineer in the private sector and mostly as a Technician of Safety.

Since 2014, she has been an elected member of the city council of the Municipality of Trikala, became a Vice Mayor of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth and was Vice President at the Research Center of Music Museum of Vasilis Tsitsanis, who is a legal person of the Municipality of Trikala.

Since 2019, she was appointed to serve as Vice Mayor of Technical Services and Infrastructure. In recent years, she has become a vital part of Trikala’s efforts to transform into a smart and sustainable city. 

Regarding sustainable mobility, especially in Trikala, she tries to lead by example in her everyday life by moving about almost exclusively on two-wheels, be it on a bike or e-scooter, or on her own two legs.

Finally, she also loves theatre, music, cinema and contemporary dance and she believes that art can influence and change the mentality of a society

Koen Kennis
Deputy Mayor of Antwerp

Koen Kennis is a Flemish politician with over 20 years’ political experience. He is currently the first Deputy Mayor of the city of Antwerp, Belgium. Since 2013, he has been Deputy Mayor for finance, mobility, small- and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), tourism and intra-municipal decentralisation.

Initially, he started his career in the private sector as manager for Belgavia from 1994 till 1997, later becoming a managing consultant for Stork Asset Management Solutions from 1997 until 2009.

From 2009 to 2012, he was the senior advisor to Geert Bourgeois, the then Vice Minister-President of the Flemish Government.

Tiziana Benassi
Deputy Mayor of Environmental Sustainability of Parma

Tiziana Benassi was appointed as Deputy Mayor for Environmental Sustainability of the City of Parma in 2017. She has university degrees in Civil Engineering and Architecture and a Master's degree in Behavioural Science at Luiss University of Rome. This developed her knowledge of land use, mobility, and traffic planning.

She has gained particular experience in urban planning and transport through her several years of time in local administrations as the head of different technical departments.

As Deputy Mayor responsible for sustainable mobility, European projects, environmental and energy policies, and active on  several boards and committees related to transport, Tiziana has a strong interest in sustainable development, urban mobility and European cooperation.

During her mandate, Tiziana will work to make Parma a more sustainable, attractive, green and smart city by encouraging cycling and walking, increasing intermodality and public transport use, and implementing comprehensive charging infrastructure for e-vehicles.

As a CIVITAS PAC member, she is keen to cooperate with the EU and other European cities to increase the role and potential of urban mobility within European strategies for 2020-2030.

George Dimarelos
Deputy Mayor for Urban Resilience and Development Programmes of Thessaloniki

George Dimarelos is a civil and transport engineer with 20 years experience in the private sector and local governance. Between 2001 and 2010, he worked as a transport consultant and project manager in various private sector projects.

Since 2010, he has served as an elected member of Thessaloniki City Council in Greece. He was appointed by the Mayor of Thessaloniki as an executive transport consultant and a member of the Board of Directors of the Thessaloniki Port Authority. He is also a board member of the Thessaloniki Urban Transport Authority.

In March 2017, he was appointed by the Mayor to serve as Deputy Mayor for Education and Sports. After taking an active role on transport issues during the development of the city’s first resilience strategy, he now serves as Deputy Mayor for Urban Resilience and Development Programmes.

He graduated from the University of Birmingham in Civil Engineering and gained a Master's degree (MSc) in Transport Engineering and Operations from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In 2005, he received a Masters in Business Administration from the American College of Thessaloniki.

Carl Hanssens
Vice-Mayor for Mobility, the Public Domain and City Development of Sint-Niklaas

Carl Hanssens was born and raised in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, and holds a Master's degree in translation (Dutch, English, and Spanish) and a post-graduate degree in Enterprise Management. He started his professional career in Finance (1997 – 2013) with Euroclear Bank Operations team. In 2010, he became Director of Risk Policy within the Euroclear Group, specialising in operational, business and reputation risk.

In 2012, Carl was elected to the Sint-Niklaas City Council and became Vice Mayor for mobility, local economy  and work. During his tenure, the city has issued its new car parking policy (2014), its second-generation Sustainable Mobility Plan (2015), its Bike Infrastructure and Parking Plan (2016) and Car Circulation Plan (2017).

When designing these policies and plans, the city experimented with different stakeholder management and participation methods in order to increase public support. 2018 and 2019 will see a new Public Transport Region launched, with Sint-Niklaas forming the region's centre.

Sint-Niklaas is part of the CIVITAS PROSPERITY project as a Champion City, with Carl joining its training programme as a coach on sustainable mobility and stakeholder management.

Andrzej Bień
Vice-Chairman of the City Council of Gdynia

Alongside being Vice Chairman of the Gdynia City Council, he is also Plenipotentiary of the Mayor for Safety.

Mr Bień has been a councilor since 1998, with a short break from 2006 to 2007. In addition, he is a Member of the City of Gdynia Road Safety Committee and the City Planning Commission in Gdynia City Council.

Beyond his civic positions, he is a former Chairman of the Transport Committee at UBC and specialises in real estate.

With regards to his education, he gained a Master of Science in Engineering from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Gdańsk University of Technology.

After this, he completed his postgraduate studies in the "Management of Spatial Development of Cities" at the Faculty of Architecture at the Gdańsk University of Technology.

Dejan Crnek
Vice-Mayor of Ljubljana

Before being elected member of the Ljubljana City Council and appointed Vice-Mayor in 2014, he has served three terms as President of the District Council of Šmarna gora. In that role he has dedicated much attention to the development and improvement of  the public infrastructure in the district, with a special focus on mobility measures like calming the traffic and improving accessibility by public transport (extending PT lines, introducing  additional bus stops...). In the role of Vice-Mayor he is actively involved in the implementation of the new traffic policy of the City of Ljubljana with a strong emphasis on promotion of alternative mobility modes and multimodality. He actively participates in the European Mobility Week and Ljubljana European Green Capital 2016 activities. Other main fields of his activity within the City of Ljubljana are sports and cooperation with city districts.

Carlos Bernardes
Mayor of Torres Vedras

Master in Tourism Enterprises Management and PhD student in Tourism, became Vice Mayor in 2004, during this time implemented the Torres Vedras Local Agenda21, the Mobility City Strategy that encourage cycling and the use of public transportation, he led the implementation of the “Sustainable Energy Plan” and actually is leading the development of Torres Vedras “Climate Change Adaptation Plan”, booth promoted in the commitments framework of Covenant of Mayors, and Mayors Adapt. He is also, Municipality representative in CIVINET Spain & Portugal, in HyER the European Association for Hydrogen and fuel cells and Electro-mobility in European Regions and Quality Coast - EUCC Ambassador. He has coordinated the application to Civitas 2014 Award in the Technology and Innovation category, in which the municipality was awarded with the” Integrated City Parking Management Project”. Under his coordination, in 2015, Torres Vedras has won a European Green Leaf in the first year of the new European competition which recognizes a city's commitment to better environmental outcomes.

Margareta Rönngren
Vice Mayor of Umea

Margareta Rönngren is a member of the Executive Committee of the Municipal Assembly of Umeå and a member of the city’s Budget Preparation Committee and the Economic Development and Planning Committee. Furthermore, she is active on several boards and committees related to transport infrastructure (with a focus on railways and ports), and urban mobility. For example she serves on the board of Umeå’s public transport company, and as chair of the board of the county level public transport operator. Margareta Rönngren has a genuine interest in sustainable development and is active in several bilateral exchange programs at the international level for sustainable development as well as programs for exchange of experience in environmental engineering. For several legislatures she has been chair of the Municipal board for Primary and Secondary School in Umeå. As a member of CIVITAS PAC, she will focus on sustainable urban mobility in a long term perspective, recognizing the importance of integrating land use and transport policies, as well as implementing new smart solutions, in order to reduce reliance on fossil fuel.


Mr. Ivo Cré PAC Secretary Rue du Trône, 98 B - 1050, Brussels Belgium