The international activities of cities are mushrooming all over Europe. Traditional city partnerships are more frequently giving way to policy-oriented cooperation schemes in city networks. I look at the scalar orientation of the international activities of seven European cities (five from Switzerland, one each from France and Germany). Although some of these international activities of cities are truly global in their orientation, most of them are linked to the EU. The financial incentives from the EU explain why many of the international activities of cities remain scalarly limited to Europe. European cities do mostly also not contest the respective national foreign policy (except for the French "secondary city" Lyon), because the logic behind these international contacts is much more economic than political. The paper concludes that both aspects (the strong role of the EU and the cities' orientation towards competitiveness) are interlinked: The EU and cities strive for more competitiveness, however with a different scalar orientation. Whereas the EU wants to improve its competitiveness towards other continents, cities primarily want to move up in the European urban hierarchy.