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Future of Europe: President Barroso and Vice-President Reding to debate with citizens in Warsaw

European Commission - IP/13/675   10/07/2013

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 10 July 2013

Future of Europe: President Barroso and Vice-President Reding to debate with citizens in Warsaw

After 22 dialogues with citizens in 14 Member States, citizens in Poland will get the chance to share their opinions about the future of Europe. On 11 July 2013, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Vice-President Viviane Reding, together with Member of European Parliament Róża Thun, will hold a debate with more than 300 citizens at the Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw.

"Our citizens realise that many of the problems, the risks and the threats to their well-being go beyond the level of the nation state, and so the solutions must do so as well. European integration can support national policies and strengthen European citizens’ freedoms. Only Europe can provide a guarantee that the mistakes of the past will not happen again and the challenges of the future will be better dealt with," said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso."The real risk of fragmentation comes from not hearing citizens’ concerns. I want to see a real debate on how the European Union should evolve in the years to come, both in the economic and in the political sense. A debate which engages every citizen. That is why we will be in Warsaw tomorrow and in every EU country this and next year."

"As the debate about the future of Europe and the consequences of the economic crisis is gathering pace, we need to have a clear vision about where we are going in the coming years. What citizens think is more important than ever and I am looking forward to coming to Warsaw to hear Polish citizens' views," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "Poland belongs to the inner circle of the European Union and Polish influence has been crucial in leading Europe out of the crisis and equipping Europe with the right tools to ensure the mistakes of the past cannot happen again. I expect Poland to continue playing an active and important role in role in pushing for a stronger Europe."

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and former Polish Prime Minister and current advisor to the President of Poland, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, will kick off the debate in Warsaw before handing over the reins to Vice-President Reding and Member of the European Parliament Róża Thun who will discuss the economic crisis, citizens’ rights and the future of Europe with the participants. In the morning on the same day, President Baroso will hold the 1st General Assembly on the New Narrative for Europe, a meeting with intellectuals, representatives of the cultural world and artists, the opening part of which also features the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk

The citizens' dialogue in Warsaw will be attended by a very diverse audience ranging from entrepreneurs, representatives of the culture world, non-governmental organisations and student associations. The Europe Direct Information Centres operating in 31 cities in Poland will also ensure that interested citizens from all over Poland can participate in the dialogue in Poland's capital. The two-hour event will be moderated by Michał Adamczyk from the Polish public television TVP.

The debate will take place between 14:30 and 16:30 CET at the Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw. It will be streamed live online. Citizens from all over Europe can also participate via Twitter by using the hashtag #EUDeb8.

On 11 May 2013 Warsaw already hosted a citizens' dialogue with Janusz Lewandowski, EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget. Nearly 200 people took part, and more than 3000 followed the live web streaming.

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 and in 2014, EU Commissioners, MEPs and national politicians everywhere in the EU have been meeting citizens to discuss their expectations for the future of Europe.

Vice-President Reding has already held debates in Cádiz (Spain), in Graz (Austria), in Berlin (Germany), in Dublin (Ireland), in Coimbra (Portugal), in Thessaloniki (Greece), in Brussels (Belgium) and in Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg). Many more Dialogues will take place all over the European Union throughout 2013 and 2014 – which will see European, national and local politicians engaging in a debate with citizens from all walks of life. All the Dialogues can be followed here: http://ec.europa.eu/european-debate.

A lot has been achieved in the twenty years since the introduction of EU Citizenship: According to a recent EU survey today 63% of citizens feel "European". In Poland, this figure is even higher at 74% (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 Poles say that they are not well informed about their rights as EU citizens.

This is why Citizens' Dialogues are at the heart of the European Year of Citizens, a year dedicated to citizens and their rights.

Why is the Commission doing this now?

Because today Europe is at a crossroads. Everyone is talking about the future of Europe, 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. That is why it is essential that the people of Europe actively join the debate and make their voice heard.

What will be the outcome of the Dialogues?

The feedback from citizens' 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.

On 8 May 2013 the European Commission published its second EU Citizenship Report, which puts forward 12 new concrete measures to solve problems citizens still have (IP/13/410 and MEMO/13/409). The Citizens' Report is the Commission's answer to a major online consultation held from May 2012 (IP/12/461) and the questions raised and suggestions made in citizens' dialogues on EU citizens' right and their future. Twelve thousand EU citizens took part in the consultation, with Poles constituting the single largest group and accounting for 18% of the total number of contributions.

For more information

Further information on the Warsaw Dialogue:

http://ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe/citizens-dialogues/poland/warsaw/july_en.htm

Debates with citizens on the Future of Europe:

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

European Year of Citizens: http://europa.eu/citizens-2013/en/home

Europeans have their say — results of public consultation on citizens’ rights in the EU:

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

Website of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship: http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Viviane Reding on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU

To take part in the debate via Facebook: www.facebook.com/komisjaeuropejska, and via Twitter: @EUinPL #EUdeb8

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

Annex

1. Poles believe the EU can best tackle the current crisis

2. More than seven out of ten Poles feel they are EU citizens, one in two knows his or her rights

3. Poles consider the free movement of people, goods and services to be the EU’s greatest achievement


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