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Leaders and Mayors representing Core Cities UK, the ten UK cities at the heart of the biggest urban areas outside London, are to meet with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier next week.

The meeting in Brussels on the 19th of February will see Core City politicians discuss how the shared interests of their cities, local communities and businesses can be best met in the lead up to and after Brexit.

Core Cities UK will attend the European Commission Headquarters with the President of the European cities network, EUROCITIES, meaning roughly 200 urban centres will be represented at the meeting.

The Core Cities urban areas are home to 20m people and generate 25% of the UK economy. They are home to more than a quarter of UK businesses, deliver 29% of UK international trade and host 37.5% of UK university students.

They are also the UK’s most significant international centres for trade outside London. It is estimated Core Cities exported over £72 billion in 2016, of which 48% was to the EU and 52% to non-EU countries.

Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of Core Cities UK and Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“Negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU is a matter for the UK Government and our meeting with Michel Barnier isn’t to discuss that process.

“Our joint meeting, together with EUROCITIES, is to promote the interests of our local communities, businesses and institutions in future links with other European cities. We already have strong links with these cities which are important for local jobs. We also have a responsibility to make sure the voice of local people is heard.

“Growth from the Core Cities will play a critical role to the success of the UK’s post-Brexit economy. The UK needs to increase its productivity by giving our cities the freedoms they need. If all our places performed just at the national economic average, it would put an additional £70-£90 billion into the economy every year.

“International evidence suggests that the most productive cities have the most power over spending on local priorities.Our message to Government is to deliver a domestic reform agenda that allows cities to take back control on issues such as skills and local economic development.”

Through its partnership with EUROCITIES, Core Cities will also be urging other European urban areas to highlight to their Governments the importance of a positive relationship between cities.

Core Cities plans to share the outcome of the discussion with ministers and shadow ministers.