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17/09/2013

SPAIN - European and national authorities, opinion leaders and young faces encourage Spanish citizens to benefit from their EU rights

On 11 September, the Headquarters of the European Institutions in Madrid hosted an event to introduce the Ambassadors and the Faces of the European Year of Citizens 2013 for Spain.

The event, organised by the European Commission Representation Office and the European Parliament Office in Madrid, with the support of the Secretary of State for the European Union, was a great success, with 60 organisations and 20 journalists having attended.

-       The number of attendees: 60 organisations, representing different social sectors

-       Their active participation in the event

-       The number of media who attended: 20 journalists from news agencies, newspapers, online media, radio and TV stations

-       The format of the event (the agenda followed)

One of the most interesting aspects was the interaction between the European Institutions representatives, the Ambassadors, the Faces of the Year and the audience.  Particularly contributing to this were the exciting speeches from the Faces of the Year: Ana Dubois, Israel Arribas and Alejandra Prado, three young Spaniards who shared their personal stories about Europe.

 

 

In addition to this, a video produced specifically for this event was shown, in which citizens in several Spanish towns were surveyed. Highlighting the necessity of stimulating the debate about Europe among population, many of the event attendees found the video spontaneous and fresh, sparking additional the debate in the room.

Director of the EC Representation, Mr. Francisco Fonseca, welcomed the attendees and introduced the Ambassadors. He also introduced the campaign and stressed that "the European Year of Citizens wants to encourage the dialogue between the Government, the civil society and the business sector in order to find out what citizens want the EU to be in 2020 in terms of rights, policies and governance ".

 

 

Ms. Isabel Mateo, Head of Educational Issues in the European Parliament Office in Madrid, invited the attendees to take part in the European elections that will take place in 2014 and highlighted the importance of the citizens’ contribution.

One of the Ambassadors, athlete Ms. Theresa Zabell, former member of the European Parliament and two-time Olympic champion, said "It's very important to be aware of the rights we have as European citizens and we should enjoy them. I have lived and studied in EU countries and I was able to use its health systems. I do encourage everyone to be informed”.

 

Irene Villa, admired and respected journalist and psychologist in Spain, participated in the event as well and stressed the importance of feeling that "Europe is our home, now more than ever, and being European is a title that can bring many benefits”

Mr. Ferran Adrià, the third Ambassador of the Year in Spain, who is considered one of the best chefs all over the world, was not able to attend however passed on words of support that were screened in the headquarters of the European Institutions.

Mr. Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Secretary of State for the European Union, closed the event by declaring that “Europe is like the air we breathe. We cannot see it but is everywhere".

Much of the success of the event can be attributed to the interactivity of media and attendees, who asked many considered questions throughout.

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