The Citizen’s Dialogue event, held on 24 September, allowed citizens to make their voices heard through a dialogue with the Vice President of the European Commission, Ms Viviane Reding and Ms Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of the European Parliament.
Among other things, a discussion was held about the crisis and ways of coming through it. A strong focus was also placed upon the importance of citizens’ rights in Europe and the audience’s vision of Europe in the lead up to the year 2020. These topics have been discussed at various events throughout the European Year of Citizens 2013 (EYC2013), and although this event was only long enough to allow for a snapshot of the different topics, both the audience and Ms Reding felt they took a lot away from the event.
Finnish European Year of the Citizens 2013 Spokesperson Leila Kurki attended the event and raised the topic of citizens and their place in EU matters. She asked Ms Reding about how the social dimension would be linked to policy making in the process of recovery from the financial crisis. She highlighted the importance of this social dimension of politics, stating that it must not be forgotten.
In response to the question, Ms Reding acknowledged the social dimension’s role in the recovery, but also commented on the breadth of the topic, stating that a much greater dialogue would be required to discuss it in depth. She also added that the EU is a model of solidarity and that the majority of its budget goes to economic and social cohesion.
Having written about the EYC2013 in several posts, Leila Kurki’s most recent blog post elaborates on how the media and populism exploit the lack of citizens’ knowledge about Europe. The post also looks at how myths concerning Europe can be dispelled, such as through stronger information targeting.
In the post, Leila discusses positive initiatives, such as steps to help young people into employment. She points out that the balanced functioning of the internal market requires common European “rules of play”, meaning that there must be pan-EU compliance with certain basic standards, such as minimum working hours, annual and parental leave.
Leila Kurki believes that confidence in the EU's ‘raison d'être’ needs to be part of everyday life, and that citizens should be encouraged to participate actively in the development of the EU and political and social activities. The actual implementation of European citizenship means strengthening democracy and the EU's fundamental values, respecting citizens' political, economic and social rights. Read out the full blog post in Finnish here! See also the video!
Leila Kurki is an employment policy expert working for the Confederation of Salaried Employees in Finland.
European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding discusses Europe at the Citizens’ Dialogue in Helsinki, Finland.