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Future of Europe: Vice-President Viviane Reding to debate with citizens in Namur

European Commission - IP/13/830   12/09/2013

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 12 September 2013

Future of Europe: Vice-President Viviane Reding to debate with citizens in Namur

Just two days after President José Manuel Barroso's State of the Union address, the debate on the future of Europe is coming to Namur. On 13 September, Vice-President Viviane Reding and Minister-President of Wallonia and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Rudy Demotte, will discuss Europe's way out of the economic crisis, citizens' rights and Europe's future with over 350 citizens, many of them young people.

"In a little over 8 months, Belgians and citizens across Europe will be taking to the polls to vote on Europe's future in the May 2014 European Parliament elections," said Vice-President Viviane Reding. "I believe this is a unique opportunity for citizens to make their voice heard and thereby develop and strengthen a true parliamentary system in our Union. I am looking forward to hearing the fresh ideas of the young people gathered in Namur, their views on Europe and what it should be." It will be particularly interesting to talk to these young people who will be voting for the first time in their lives".

The Citizens' Dialogue in Namur follows debates in Ghent (12/04), Eupen (23/04), Brussels (04/05), Antwerp (08/05) and Genk (28/06). Together, Vice-President Viviane Reding and Minister-President Demotte will talk about the future of Europe with citizens and local high school students soon to be of voting age. There will be a focus on issues of particular interest to today's young generation.

"This is a very positive initiative, since young people will have the opportunity to ask their questions, set out their vision for Europe's future and communicate what they expect in the short and medium term. It will help citizens understand their rights and show the important role Europe plays in their daily lives. During this exchange of views, it will be particularly interesting to compare different visions of society across cultures and generations," noted Rudy Demotte, Minister-President of Wallonia and of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels.

The debate will take place in the context of the "Fêtes de Wallonie /Colloque Jeunes" on Friday 13 September between 14:30 and 15:45 at the cinema-complex Acinapolis de Namur (Jambes).

The event can be followed live via webstream. European citizens who are not able to attend the event in person can ask their questions via Twitter by using the hash tag #EUDeb8. In the days leading up to the Dialogue, questions can also be asked via Facebook and via the site of the youth conference.

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 year and next, members of the European Commission, together with national and local politicians and members of the European Parliament, is holding 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), Heidelberg (Germany) and Sofia (Bulgaria). 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 shows that today 71% of Belgian citizens feel "European" (EU average 63%). 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 (61%) say that they would like to know more 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 a Communication on the future of Europe. 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 Citizenship 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' rights and their future.

Will there be another opportunity to debate with Commissioners in Belgium?

Upcoming events in Belgium include an event in Brussels on 22 September, with the participation of Commissioner Dacian Ciolos; in Liège on 17 October, with the participation of President José Manuel Barroso, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and Walloon Minister of Economy and Finance Jean-Claude Marcourt; and, finally at BOZAR in Brussels on 5 December, with the participation of Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, Director of BOZAR Paul Dujardin, and the President of the Europa Nostra Foundation, Placido Domingo.

For more information

Further information on the Namur Dialogue:

http://ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe/citizens-dialogues/belgium/namur/index_en.htm

Debates with citizens on the Future of Europe:

http://ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe

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:

https://www.facebook.com/ECrepBE and on Twitter: @EU4BE and #EUdeb8

ANNEX

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

Source: Eurobarometer Standard 79 - May 2013

2. Seven out of ten Belgians feel like an EU citizen, however fewer than half of them know what their rights are

Source: Eurobarometer Standard 79 - May 2013

3. Belgians see peace among Member States as the most positive result of the EU

Source: Eurobarometer Standard 79 - May 2013

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)


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