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Future of Europe Debate: Vice-President Viviane Reding debates with citizens in Sofia

European Commission - IP/13/720   22/07/2013

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 22 July 2013

Future of Europe Debate: Vice-President Viviane Reding debates with citizens in Sofia

"Bulgaria must stay on the reform path, and its citizens have a key role to play in the process", said European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding ahead of a dialogue with over 250 citizens in Sofia (Bulgaria) which she will hold tomorrow (23 July) to discuss the future of Europe.

Tomorrow's event is the 25th in a series of Citizens' Dialogues that European Commissioners are holding all over the European Union together with national and local politicians and members of the European Parliament. Each debate is centred around three themes: the economic crisis, citizens' rights and the future of Europe. The debate in Sofia which will take place on 23 July will be opened by the President of the Bulgarian Republic Mr. Rosen Plevneliev.

"I am glad that President Plevneliev will join me for this debate – to listen to Bulgarian citizens and hear what they expect from us politicians for their future", said Vice-President Reding who is responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "As Bulgarian citizens are making their voice heard through protests on the street, this debate is timely but also necessary. I am expecting a challenging dialogue. My message will be clear: the Commission wants to lend a helping hand to Bulgaria to help fight corruption and organised crime and to assist in implementing judicial reforms. These steps are essential to rebuild trust and stability in the country."

The debate will take place on Tuesday (23 July) between 10:00 and 12:00 (Bulgarian time; 9:00 and 11:00 CET) at the Military Club, 7 Tzar Osvoboditel Blvd., Sofia. The debate will be moderated by Mr Boyko Vassilev – the well-known host of Bulgarian National Television's political talk-show "Panorama".

The event can be followed live via webstream and via a live broadcast on Bulgaria's BNT2 channel. Citizens from all over Europe can also participate via Twitter by using the hash tag #EUDeb8. Questions can also be asked via the official Facebook page of the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria.

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 this and next year, members of the European Commission, together with national and local politicians and members of the European Parliament will hold debates with citizens about their expectations for the future in Citizens' Dialogues 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), in Thessaloniki (Greece), in Brussels (Belgium) and in Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), Warsaw (Poland) and Heidelberg (Germany). Many more Dialogues will take place all over the European Union throughout 2013 and in the first few months of 2014 – 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: the latest EU survey, which will be published tomorrow, shows that today 62% of citizens feel "European". In Bulgaria, this figure is 48%. 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 Bulgarians (57%) 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. The Citizens' Dialogues are at the heart of this year.

Why is the Commission doing this now?

Because 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. Giving citizens a direct voice in this debate is therefore more important than ever.

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.

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.

For more information

Further information on the Sofia Dialogue:

http://ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe/citizens-dialogues/bulgaria/sofia/index_en.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/ECinBulgaria and on Twitter: @EC_in_Sofia and #EUdeb8

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

ANNEX

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

Source: Eurobarometer Standard 79 - May 2013

2. Five out of ten Bulgarians feel like an EU citizen, four out of ten know what that means

Source: Eurobarometer Standard 79 - May 2013

3. Bulgarians see the free movement of people, good and services as the most positive result of the EU

Source: Eurobarometer Standard 79 - May 2013


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