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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 23 September 2013

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

European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding will be in Helsinki with Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Sirpa Pietikäinen tomorrow to hold a debate on the future of Europe with about 300 citizens. The debate will take place on 24 September between 10:00 and 12:00 (9:00 and 11:00 CET) at Vanha ylioppilastalo, Mannerheimintie 3, Helsinki.

Tomorrow's event is the 30th 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 main themes: the economic crisis, citizens' rights and the future of Europe.

"Finland holds the 3rd place in the World Economic Forum's global competitiveness index, being the leading EU Member State – the best proof that hard work is rewarded with success. Finland went through a tough bank crisis in the 1990s, but after serious and difficult structural reforms, it came out strong and competitive. Finland can be a European model for other counties in economic difficulty today. I am looking forward to hearing about the experiences that Finnish citizens have made; and to their views and expectations on the future of our Union. The EU Citizens' Dialogues are an excellent platform for sharing such experiences Europe-wide," said Vice-President Reding who is responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

It is time to have an in-depth debate on what kind of Union Europeans and Finns want. The European Parliament elections in 2014 will make this debate more relevant than ever. The Citizens' Dialogue in Helsinki provides an opportunity to comment, share views and ask questions to Vice-President Reding and MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen. The feedback will feed into outlines of a political vision on the Future of Europe to be presented in early spring 2014.

Prior registration is required: http://kansalaiskeskustelu.eu/. The debate will be moderated by André Noël Chaker, "Speaker of the Year 2012" of The Speakers Forum Finland. The event will be streamed live via the internet as a webcast. Citizens from all over Europe can also participate via Twitter by using the hashtag #EUDeb8. Questions can also be sent to this address: comm-rep-hel-citizensdialogue@ec.europa.eu

The event is organised by the Representation of the European Commission in Helsinki. European Year of Citizens’ partners in Finland are the Prime Minister’s Office and the European Movement. The Ambassador of the European Year of Citizens is Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb.

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 meet European citizens and hear their expectations for the EU's future.

Vice-President Reding has already held debates in Berlin, Dublin, Thessaloniki, Brussels, Esch, Warsaw, Heidelberg, Sofia, Namur and Trieste. 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/debate-future-europe.

A lot has been achieved in the twenty years since the introduction of EU Citizenship: the latest EU survey shows that today 62% of citizens feel "European". In Finland, this figure is 73%. Across the EU, citizens are using their rights on a daily basis. But people are not always aware of these rights. For example around half of Finns (49%) 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 being debated across the EU, 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' rights and their future.

For more information

Further information on the Helsinki Dialogue:

http://ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe/citizens-dialogues/finland/helsinki/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

ANNEX

1. Three out of four Finns feel like an EU citizen, half of them say that they would like to know more about their rights.

Source: Eurobarometer Standard 79 - May 2013

2. For Finns, peace in Europe and freedom of movement are the EU's main achievements.

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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