Brussels, 16 October 2009
President Barroso inaugurates new Commission-Parliament premises in heart of Vienna
A new home for the European Commission and European Parliament will be unveiled today in the heart of Vienna. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, inaugurates the brand-new European House, including the newly created European Public Space, together with Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament. Austria's Federal President, Heinz Fischer, Vice Chancellor and Minister for Finance Josef Pröll, Minister for European and Foreign Affairs, Michael Spindelegger, and the Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, are also attending.
President Barroso said ahead of the inauguration: " Advancing people's Europe means enhancing dialogue and information. Dialogue with the citizens and the different actors in civil society, a hallmark of the current Commission, will continue to be of critical importance. The Commission will redouble its efforts to have a real Commission presence communicating on the ground in the Member States and in the regions, in partnership with the European Parliament, listening to citizens and dealing first hand with their questions and concerns. But we should be under no illusions: the gap in awareness of the EU can only be closed in full partnership with all actors at national, regional and local level."
Vice-President Margot Wallström said " European Public Spaces are an important part of the Commission's communication strategy, one of the central points of which is 'going local' i.e. bringing the EU closer to citizens."
Four events mark the opening of the new building, which offers facilities including a conference centre and drop-in information point for the public. Media representatives have been invited to attend all of these.
Friday, 16 October:
Morning: Official opening ceremony, 11:00-13:00
Afternoon: Youth forum – young people are invited to take part in a discussion with Panos Carvounis, Deputy Director of DG COMMUNICATION, and Austrian Members of European Parliament.
Monday 19 October: Symposium on "Middle and Eastern Europe - the way forward".
Monday 26 October: Open Doors Day – the centre is open to the general public.
Richard Kühnel, Head of the Commission Representation in Vienna, said: "We want this place in the heart of Vienna to become a meeting point for all Austrian citizens interested in the European project."
European Public Spaces (EPS) are a new, joint initiative run by the Commission and of the European Parliament. They are modern, multifunctional spaces designed to attract the general public, especially young people, to take part in activities with a European flavour. Vienna is the ninth European Public Space to be set up, after Madrid, Dublin, Tallin, Rome, Lisbon, Stockholm, Berlin and Copenhagen. Riga, Prague, Helsinki will also launch their EPS before the end of 2009.