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Future of Europe Debate: Vice-President Reding holds Citizens' Dialogue in Brussels

European Commission - IP/13/397   03/05/2013

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 3 May 2013

Future of Europe Debate: Vice-President Reding holds Citizens' Dialogue in Brussels

As the debate about the future of Europe and the consequences of the economic crisis is gathering pace, the European Commission is reaching out to different European towns to listen to citizens, their concerns and hopes for the future. On 4 May 2013, Vice-President Viviane Reding will be in Brussels to hold a debate with over 300 citizens alongside Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital region Charles Picqué.

"I know that Belgians and Europeans in general are worried about the future, the impacts of the crisis and their employment situation. During the Citizens' Dialogue in Brussels I want to listen to these concerns. Europe is based on solidarity and the EU is supporting Belgium, as other members of the European family, during these difficult times." said Vice-President Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "I am encouraged to see that Belgians see the EU as best able to tackle the current crisis. I look forward to hearing more fresh ideas from the citizens tomorrow. Take part, ask your question."

This Citizens' Dialogue in Brussels will be at the centrepiece of a "Day of Dialogue" during which the EU will open its doors to citizens. Vice-President Reding will speak at the inauguration of the Commission's relocated visitor's centre and during the EU "Open Doors Day" (IP/13/386). Furthermore, the Commission will hold over 10 additional events across Brussels, encouraging people to share their ideas for Europe's future.

Citizens from all over Belgium will participate in the Brussels Dialogue alongside Members of the European Parliament, Belgian business leaders and cultural figures. The Dialogue will be moderated by Hakima Darhmouch (RTL) and Rob Heirbaut (VRT). In one and a half hours it will cover three thematic areas: the economic crisis, citizens' rights and the future of Europe.

The debate will take place between 14:30-16:00, at La Tentation, Rue de Laeken 28 1000 Bruxelles.

The debate can be followed live via web stream. Citizens from all over Europe can also participate via Twitter by using the hashtag #EUDeb8.

Two debates on the future of Europe in Belgium already took place in Ghent with European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and in Eupen (23 April) with Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn. The next debates will take place in Antwerp (8 May), Namur (13 September) and Liège (17 October) with several Commissioners including President Barroso.

Background

What are the Citizens' Dialogues about?

In January, the European Commission kicked off the European Year of Citizens (IP/13/2), a year dedicated to citizens and their rights. Throughout the year, members of the Commission will hold debates with citizens about their expectations for the future in Citizens' Dialogues (town hall meetings) all over the EU.

Vice-President Reding has already held debates in Cádiz (Spain), in Graz (Austria), in Berlin (Germany), in Dublin (Ireland), in Coimbra (Portugal) and Thessaloniki (Greece). Many more Dialogues will be held all over the European Union throughout 2013 – which will see European, national and local politicians engaging in a debate with citizens from all walks of life. Follow all the Dialogues here: http://ec.europa.eu/european-debate.

A lot has been achieved in the twenty years since the introduction of EU Citizenship: A newly published EU survey shows that today 63% of citizens feel "European". In Belgium, this figure is slightly higher at 68% (see Annex).

Across the EU, citizens are using their rights on a daily basis. But people are not always aware of these rights. For example around six in ten Belgians say that they are not well informed about their rights as EU citizens.

This is why the Commission has made 2013 the European Year of Citizens, a year dedicated to citizens and their rights. The Citizens' Dialogues are at the heart of this year.

Why is the Commission doing this now?

Because today Europe is at a crossroads. The future of Europe is the talk of the town – with many voices talking about moving towards political union a Federation of Nation States or a United States of Europe. The coming months and years will be decisive for the future course of the European Union. Further European integration must go hand in hand with strengthening the Union's democratic legitimacy.

What will be the outcome of the Dialogues?

The feedback from citizens during the Dialogues will help guide the Commission as it draws up plans for a future reform of the EU. One of the main purposes of the Dialogues will also be to prepare the ground for the 2014 European elections.

During the European Year of Citizens, on 8 May 2013, the Commission will also publish a second EU citizenship report, which will take stock of the 25 actions outlined in 2010 and will outline 12 new concrete actions to address remaining problems that EU citizens still face. The issues raised during the online public consultation and during the Dialogues will feed into this report and shape the Commission's citizenship policy.

For more information

Further information on the Brussels Dialogue:

http://ec.europa.eu/belgium/events/130405_debates_fr.htm

Debates with citizens on the Future of Europe:

http://ec.europa.eu/european-debate

European Year of Citizens:

http://europa.eu/citizens-2013

Europeans have their say: Results of the consultation on EU citizens’ rights:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen/files/eu-citizen-brochure_en.pdf

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU

To contribute to the debate on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ECrepBE and on twitter: @EU4BE #EUdeb8

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

ANNEX

1. Belgians say EU is best able to take effective action against crisis

2. Seven out of ten Belgians feel like an EU citizen, but only four out of ten know what that means

3. Belgians see the Euro as the most positive result of the EU


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