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President Barroso has called in his 2012 State of the Union address for a broad debate with citizens of a truly European dimension. To this end the Commission will between September 2012 and December 2013 organize the Debate on the Future of Europe, composed of a series of dialogues with citizens from all walks of life. The Commission holds in this context the Citizens' Dialogues as open fora in which political leaders from the Commission (and other Institutions) switch to listening mode in order to get in a genuine dialogue an unfiltered feedback from people about their concerns and needs as well as their vision for Europe at the end of the decade.
Vice-President Reding has made a commitment to organize and participate at least in 18 physical and one virtual online dialogues in 14 Member States. Moreover, she has invited the President and the other members of the College to team up with her and/or propose and organize further Citizens' Dialogues across the Union.
These events will be moderated panel discussions with European politicians, opinion leaders, local politicians and some 500 citizens from all walks of life. The dialogues will be prepared through both more traditional means (direct contacts with the media, citizens' association, civil society, schools etc.) and social media (Facebook and Twitter). The follow up will consist in documenting the debates (including their preparatory stages), and reporting from the events.
It needs to be underlined that these dialogues are political communication events that are not official consultations or citizens' panels and they are not meant to replace decision making processes. They are strategic tools which build the bridge between the practical and content-based problem-solving approach of the EU Citizenship Report exercise and the long-term vision of Europe at the end of this decade.