Brussels, 14 March 2014
Future of Europe debate: Vice-President Viviane Reding to hold Citizens' Dialogue in Amsterdam
What role should the EU play in the economic recovery? What rights do we have as European citizens and how do these rights affect our daily lives? What kind of Europe do citizens want for the future? These are some of the issues that European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding will discuss with around 250 citizens on 14 March in Amsterdam at the 49th Citizens' Dialogue.
"As the European Parliament elections in May draw near, it is more important than ever to engage with citizens and hold a frank discussion about Europe, what it means today and what it should mean tomorrow," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "A founding member at the heart of the EU and a gateway for Europe's trading partners, the Netherlands's destiny is European. I am greatly looking forward to hearing Dutch citizens' views and hope that the Netherlands, and the citizens I will meet in Amsterdam on Friday, will continue to play an active role in shaping Europe’s future."
At the Dialogue, citizens will have the opportunity to debate with Vice-President Reding, to ask questions and to put forward their views and concerns. The Dialogue will be moderated by NRC Handelsblad journalist Carolien de Gruyter and will also see the participation of Mr Eberhard Van Der Laan, Mayor of Amsterdam.
Those wishing to attend can sign up via www.europadialoog.nl/amsterdam.
The Dialogue will take place on 14 March at 18.30 CET in the Rode Hoed in the Ossterhuiszaal, the largest and oldest remaining "hidden church" in the Netherlands dating from the Golden Age, located at Keizersgracht 102, Amsterdam. The event can be watched live via webstream while citizens from all over Europe can also participate via Facebook and Twitter by using hashtag #EUDeb8.
Interested journalists may participate in the event as well as in a press conference that will take place earlier in the day. For accreditation please contact the press office of the European Commission Representation in the Netherlands (see 'Further information below').
What are the Citizens' Dialogues about?
In 2013 the European Commission launched the European Year of Citizens (IP/13/2). Throughout the year 2013 and now moving into 2014, the year of the European Parliament elections, members of the Commission debate with citizens from all over Europe about their expectations for the future.
So far 48 dialogues with citizens have taken place across the European Union, with at least one Commissioner present on each occasion. A total of more than 50 such meetings are planned (see annex). You can follow them on the net via http://ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe.
In the run-up to the Citizens' Dialogue with Vice-President Reding, the European Commission's Representation in the Netherlands has organised a series of flanking events in cities around the country such as Rotterdam, Wageningen, Groningen, Enschede and Eindhoven, to give as many citizens as possible the chance to share their views and concerns.
A recent Eurobarometer poll shows that the average Dutch citizen feels less connected (35%) with the European Union than the average European citizen (46%). More than half (61%) of the Dutch are, however, optimistic about the future of the EU and 58% of the Dutch population feels like a European citizen.
Why is the Commission doing this now?
Because Europe is at a crossroads. The months and years to come will be decisive for the future of the European Union, with many voices offering differing opinions on which direction it should take. Giving citizens a direct voice in this debate is essential. European integration should go hand in hand with reinforcing the Union's democratic legitimacy. Listening to the voices of citizens is therefore more important than ever.
What will be the outcome of the Citizens' Dialogue?
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 these Dialogues is to prepare the ground for the 2014 European Parliament elections.
On 8 May 2013, the European Commission published its second Report on EU citizenship, which presents 12 new concrete measures to solve citizens' problems (IP/13/410 and MEMO/13/409). The Report on EU citizenship is the Commission’s answer to a major online consultation held from May 2012 (IP/12/461) and to questions raised and suggestions made in the Citizens' Dialogues on EU citizens' rights and their future.
For journalists to register for the event, contact: Cecilia Thorfinn (+31 6 835 33 216).
Further information on the Amsterdam Citizens' Dialogue: www.europadialoog.nl/amsterdam
Debates with citizens about the future of Europe: ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe
European Year of Citizens: europa.eu/citizens-2013
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU
Europeans have their say: Results of the consultation on EU citizens' rights:
1. The debate on Europe's future continues…