Winning cities to date have been Stockholm (2010), Hamburg (2011), Vitoria Gasteiz (2012), Nantes (2013) and Copenhagen (2014). Stockholm was awarded in 2008 as each city gets two years to prepare for hosting the award with events, conferences and generally acting as a European role model from whom other cities can learn. The 2015 winning city will be announced in Nantes, June 2013. The four shortlisted finalists are Bristol, Brussels, Glasgow and Ljubljana.
Cities are judged technically on 12 different environmental criteria by an international panel of experts appointed by RPS - climate change, mobility, biodiversity, sustainable land use/open spaces, air quality, noisescape, water consumption and management, wastewater treatment, waste management, energy efficiency and eco-innovation. A shortlist is then drawn up and submitted to an EU Commission appointed Jury representing the Commission, Committee of the Regions, Covenant of Mayors, European Environmental Agency and European Environmental Bureau (NGOs) who pick the winning city.
The competition is open to all European Cities with a population over 200,000. Vitoria Gasteiz has a population of 242,000 and is the capital of the Basque Country in Northern Spain.
The event in Dublin Castle was hosted by the Irish Presidency led by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan who chaired the Council Meeting. Presentations on the European Green Capital concept were made by EU Environment Commissioner Dr Janez Potocnik, Director General of DG Environment and Mayor of Vitoria Gasteiz the European Green Capital in 2012 - Javier Moroto Aranzabal. All three spoke about the importance of the Award as three out of every four EU citizens live in an urban area, big or small.
The Commissioner stated the importance of sustainability of cities as underlined by the soon to be adopted 7th EU Environmental Action Plan - "Cities define our future" he said "as most environmental pressures arise in cities from traffic congestion to water and waste issues." Director General Falkenberg said the European Green Capital stood for the principal issues which dominate the work of DG Environment. He compared the 12 technical criteria on which cities were judged by experts as representing the 12 stars on the EU flag.
On the following day EU Commissioner Potocnik and PJ Rudden addressed the Dublin Chamber of Commerce Green Economy Forum - the Commissioner on general EU environment policy and how it had to make economic sense to be workable for business and PJ Rudden on the European Green Capital policy and implementation gearing towards sustainable urban living.