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Future of Europe Debate: Commissioner Piebalgs debates with Latvians in Riga

European Commission - IP/13/973   18/10/2013

Other available languages: FR DE LV

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 18 October 2013

Future of Europe Debate: Commissioner Piebalgs debates with Latvians in Riga

How do Latvians imagine the future of Europe? What are their worries regarding the economic situation? These will be some of the questions which EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Latvian Defence Minister Dr Artis Pabriks will discuss about with about 200 citizens on 18 October in Riga.

Just a few months ahead of the entry of the country in the Eurozone, the Latvian Commissioner travels to his country of origin to host this event. It will be the 35th event in a series of Citizens' Dialogues that European Commissioners are holding all over the European Union. As each debate, it will be centred on three main themes: the economic crisis, citizens' rights and the future of Europe.

"These recent years have been challenging times for both Latvia and the rest of EU, with the economic boom being replaced by a severe crisis. Unemployment and social inequality have grown in most countries, and we have to act at both national and EU level to address these issues. This is an extremely interesting moment in Latvia as we are about to swap the lat for the euro, 10 years after voting to become part of the EU. What citizens think is more important than ever and I am looking forward to the debate in Riga", said Commissioner Piebalgs.

The debate in Riga will also form part of the “Proud to be” campaign organised by the European Commission Representation in Latvia, promoting Latvia's excellence in Europe and the benefits that EU membership has brought to the country and citizens.

The feedback received will provide important building blocks for a political communication on the Future of Europe in early spring 2014.

Details of the event and accreditation:

The debate will take place between 10:00 and 11:30 (9:00 and 10:30 CET) in the Gold Hall of the Riga Latvian Society, 13 Merķeļa Street, Riga.

Prior registration is required: http://www.eiropasnakotne.lv/.

The debate will be moderated by Mr Arnis Krauze, a well-known TV journalist. 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.

Background

What are the Citizens' Dialogues about?

The Citizens' Dialogue are an opportunity to bring together members of the European Commission, the European Parliament, national and local politicians, and European citizens, to hear about their expectations for the EU's future.

More than 30 debates have been held so far, most recently in Helsinki (Finland), Györ (Hungary), Košice (Slovakia), Stockholm (Sweden) and Liège (Belgium).

A lot has been achieved in the 20 years since the introduction of EU Citizenship: the latest EU survey shows that today 62% of EU citizens feel "European". In Latvia, this figure is 56%. Across the EU, citizens are using their rights on a daily basis. But people are not always aware of these rights. For example around two in three Latvians (66%) say that they would like to know more about their rights as EU citizens. (More details available in the Annex below).

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 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 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 during Citizens' Dialogues on EU citizens' rights and future.

For more information

Further information on the Riga Dialogue:

http://ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe/citizens-dialogues/latvia/bauska/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

Homepage of Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/

Follow the EU Commissioner on Twitter: @APiebalgsEU

Contacts :

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)

Maria Sanchez Aponte (+32 2 298 10 35)

ANNEX

1. The debate on the future of Europe continues….

Member State

City

Date

European Commissioner

local/national politicians

Latvia

Riga

18/10/2013

Commissioner Piebalgs

Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks

Malta

Valetta

07/11/2013

Commissioner Borg

TBC

France

Marseille

14/11/2013

Vice-President Reding

French Minister for Justice Christine Taubira

Cyprus

Nicosia

28/11/2013

Commissioner Vassiliou

TBC

Austria

Eisenstadt

29/11/2013

Commissioner Hahn

TBC

Austria

Innsbruck

06/12/2013

Commissioner Hahn

TBC

Lithuania

Vilnius

13/12/2013

Vice-President Reding

TBC

Belgium

Wavre

19/12/2013

Commissioner Barnier

TBC

Online

Virtual dialogue

16/01/2014

Vice-President Reding

TBC

Denmark

Copenhagen

06/02/2014

Commissioner Hedegaard

TBC

United Kingdom

London

11/02/2014

Vice-President Reding

TBC

Netherlands

Amsterdam

13/02/2014

Vice-President Reding

TBC

Spain

Barcelona

23/02/2014

Vice-President Reding

TBC

2. Most Latvians feel like EU citizens, two out of three say that they would like to know more about their rights.

Source: Eurobarometer Standard 79 - May 2013

3. For Latvians, freedom of movement is the EU's main achievement.

Source: Eurobarometer Standard 79 - May 2013


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