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Pan-European Citizens’ Dialogue

27 March 2014 European Commission’s Visitors’ Centre - Brussels


Welcome and kick-starting the conversations
Ylva Tivéus opened the event by welcoming participants to Brussels, to the Commission and to the European Public Space. She invited citizens to talk to each other and meet new people: “There is a lot of diversity in this group. Let’s see how much of this diversity can lead to unity tomorrow!” - Ylva Tivéus “This is a truly unique event because of its Pan-European nature” – Matthieu Kleinschmager (hosting team).

Testimonials from citizens
“I have brought with me a photo of myself with a statue of Churchill. He was a great British leader and one of the founders of the European Union” – UK journalist. “People are begging in the streets of Stockholm and they are citizens of the EU” – Swedish woman. “We should talk about the economic crisis and its effect on young peoples’ future. What can Europe do for them? The economic crisis, austerity and poverty are important issues for all of us, not just for Greece” – Greek journalist. “Young people are leaving my country, but not to go somewhere else in Europe: to go outside. We have to find a way to avoid this!” – Croatian man. “Keep Europe united! War is on our borders” – Romanian citizen. “Do we want to help the people or do we want to help banks and investors?” – German man.

Constellation: a different look at who we are
As a first step, Matthieu and Maria invited everyone to gather in the centre of the room and consider the following questions: •Where were you born? •Where do you live now? •What is happening in my part of Europe that we should talk about tomorrow? •Are you in Brussels for the first time? •Have you visited the Commission premises before? •What is your occupation?


Opening Purpose of the event
• Bring together European citizens from all over Europe to talk about their real experiences as Europeans and share their concerns and aspirations for the future of Europe and their future as European citizens. • Create an environment for citizens and EU politicians to connect and engage in a dialogue. • Make this dialogue a real-time experience for a European public space and a sound box of the European diversity.

Welcome and purpose of the Pan-European Citizens’ Dialogue - Ylva Tivéus
“Welcome to all of you on behalf of the whole European Commission! President Barroso and the Commissioners have been very dedicated to discussions on different issues of importance to you and which we have identified over the past one-and-ahalf years. President Barroso called for a debate on what kind of Europe we want: more or less Europe, a deeper or smaller Europe… He made this call in a time of economic and financial crisis and increased globalisation. He knew changes had to be made but he first wanted a debate on possible options for Europe and on the proposals he presented for the medium and long term. We took this debate to all Member States, face to face. The first dialogue took place in Cadiz, and I am glad to welcome the Mayor of Cadiz, Ms Teófila Martínez Saiz, who is here with us today.

The debate has taken off – sometimes in a constructive way, sometimes in a destructive one: calling for disintegration, discrimination, the abolishment of acquired rights, nationalism. The recent conflict in Ukraine has added another dimension to the debate: peace, stability, security, but also respect of the rule of law and international agreements. Do we want to improve Europe or do we want to give it up? As President Barroso said:

“If you don’t like the European Union as it is, improve it!”.
In the next European elections you have an opportunity to raise your voice and make your choice! The future of Europe is in your hands! You have all participated in one of the previous 50 dialogues. Commissioners have come to you. And today you have come to us.


It is important that you meet each other; we have here, for the first time, citizens from 28 Member States. Use this opportunity to meet other Europeans and get the European perspective of the issues you are discussing. Make this a true European public space. You will be able to meet up with the European Commissioners directly. Never before have we had so many of them together in such a dialogue. It is your opportunity to speak up, to give your contribution, to share your solutions for the future of Europe. Let your voice free!”

Programme of the day: How are we going to be in dialogue together? – Maria Scordialos
Maria presented the journey that we would take together. We would: •Create focus groups on 6 key themes •Discuss in small groups •Share the results •Change theme in session 2 if you so wish •Summarise the results •Identify the main topics for the dialogue with the Commissioners •Be in dialogue with the Commissioners •Dialogue with President Barroso “Each part of the programme will build on the next. We will have debate, discussion and dialogue.” Real outputs we will have: •Visual map of what we discussed •Newsletter •Video “Spread it!”

What has been your experience in your city that made you want to be here and what do you hope for today? – Matthieu Kleinschmager
Everyone was invited to talk in pairs with someone they had not met yet: “Stand up and share!” •“In Poland there are intense debates about the situation in Ukraine.” •“People see the environment as a peripheral issue to economic issues – but we should care first about the very basics of life.” •“In the Amsterdam dialogue there was too much explanation from the Commissioner – politicians should listen more to citizens instead.” •“One in five Europeans has learning difficulties – it is our duty to give them the educational opportunities they deserve.” •“The national elections and the European elections should take place separately so that only European issues are discussed.” 4


The Citizens’ Dialogues: What have we discussed so far? – Gwenn, Joachim and Lorena

My experience of the Citizens’ Dialogues: What message would I like to share with citizens at the start of this pan-European Dialogue? - MEP Dagmar Roth-Behrendt
“I create legislation for all EU countries. To dialogue with citizens is essential in my work but it is hard as we cannot satisfy everybody. My wish is that you go back home and tell your family and friends: “We might not agree with all they do in Brussels but they are us!” Share your experience with at least 25 people each - Snowball effect My recommendation to the European Commission: create dialogues more often.”


“As European citizens, what about each of these topics is the most important for us?”
Everyone was invited to choose a topic from the 6 which were identified as main citizens’ concerns during the Citizens’ Dialogues, which took place over the preceding 18 months. In the breakout rooms - and after a short framing by the hosts – the citizens had 2 rounds of discussion of 20 minutes each, hosted in mini-café style in groups of about 5 people. Each conversation built on what had already been said in the previous round. Each session then convened in miniplenary to share the questions that had come up: those questions that would make a difference if addressed by the European Commission but also with our local communities and networks. Participants then clustered questions and voted on the top 3 which, in their opinion, would make the biggest difference. Content experts from the relevant Directorates-General of the European Commission were available in the room to bring their knowledge of the subject and of what the institution is working on in this area. In the afternoon, after putting together in plenary the key findings on each theme, we created the groups for the session with the European Commissioners. In total, ten Commissioners participated in the conversations with citizens about the topics identified in the morning but also other issues that came up. 6

Overcoming the crisis: solidity and solidarity?
What were the most prominent points raised during the morning sessions? Antares, from Italy, Abigail, from Denmark, and Jaspers from the Netherlands •“We first invite people to a self-reflection: How can we talk about solidarity from a 5-star hotel?” •What can the European Commission do to prevent emigration and brain drain due to lack of opportunities and social dumping? •What future is there for young unemployed people in the European Union? •Are we talking about people or economies when we speak about “overcoming the crisis?” Do we have an EU for citizens or for banks? •There is a gap between the rich and the poor in different countries and within the countries themselves. Does solidarity between rich and poor EU countries exist? How can we organise EU solidarity if the EU budget is only 1% of GDP and there are no EU taxes? •How to make Europe more transparent, especially as regards the Troïka? Key topics discussed with Vice-President Olli Rehn and Commissioner Maria Damanaki •Main problem: The gap between rich and poor in Europe is growing. This results in less trust in the institutions, which should communicate better on the actions they are taking to bridge this gap. •How can we make EU decision-making mechanisms more transparent, so there is more democratic accountability (especially in the troika)? •Solidarity towards Greece is not just about money. What about making its administration more efficient? Why not more technical assistance and capacity building? There should be more funds for Greece but also support to help spend them better. •How can we give a better future to European youth and prevent a “brain drain”?


I don't mind sharing my money directly with a person in need, without intermediaries. Having institutional and financial intermediaries was more problematic for me. (participant).



Competing on the Global Stage: strengthening Europe’s regions
What were the most prominent points raised during the morning sessions? Inta, from Latvia, and Meinard, from the Netherlands
• Every region is different – diversity requires a context-based EU approach. “One size does not fit all” • Connecting regions: we need to build genuine European infrastructures (transport and IT) • Facilitate cross-border collaboration, not competition •Mapping competencies • Connect towns through town twinning • Connecting people: • Access to information • Listen to the citizens’ voice: we should build bridges between people and with politicians. People need to have a vote but also influence how policy is done • Bring EU closer to citizens “Citizens want their voices heard!”

Key topics discussed with Commissioners Karel De Gucht and Johannes Hahn
• Enhancing cross-border cooperation in Europe (fewer national issues, more European /cross-border issues) to achieve deeper integration in Europe (vs. geographical expansion) • Making sure that the money is spent where it is most needed! And measuring effects, impacts, return on investment from Europe. • Building bridges between the EU & Brussels and citizens ()… Better communication strategies.


We need responsible citizens that pro-actively seek information beyond what the national media tell them. (participant).



Rising to the global challenge: climate change and the environment
What were the most prominent points raised during the morning sessions? Daniela, from Spain:

Key topics discussed with Commissioners Janez Potočnik and Connie Hedegaard • We are here to make sure climate change and the environment stay on the policy agenda. If we are smart in Europe we will solve the economic and environmental problems together. • Even the eurosceptics recognise that Europe should work together on the environment. The environment is one of the areas in which life is better because of the EU. • Working across borders will help us solve our resource dependency.


Ours was the less popular topic, and I am concerned about this. None of the other topics is relevant if we don’t preserve our world and our life. (participant).

How can the EU help to…? • Keep the environment on the agenda during these times of economic crisis?


• Reduce EU dependency on raw materials and increase its sustainability while reducing waste? • Support grass-roots education on the environment and promote responsible citizenship? • Encourage businesses to adopt and apply all the good practices and innovative solutions already "out there" throughout Europe?


Your Europe: Promoting Citizens’ Rights
What were the most prominent points raised during the morning sessions? Isabel from Spain and Cécile, from Marseille, France •Democracy: The EU project will allow us to build a 21st century democratic process. How can we deepen it? It is not a matter of “them”, the politicians and the institutions, but of “us”, the citizens. • European citizens’ identity (trust, democratic culture, participation) – It is our and not your Europe. • We need more information and transparency to convey ideas but also to have influence. The participants agreed with four proposals:
•Need for an EU-wide TV channel to strengthen European identity •Have a school programme from an early age to inform about Europe • Have one representative from the European Commission in each national parliament to inform at national level about the EU and the problems (non-transposition of EU legislation in that country, for example). •Make it possible for citizens to raise problems to the European Commission and

for the Commission to carry out enquires about problems at national level, such as the breach of fundamental rights. Key topics discussed with Commission VicePresident Viviane Reding and Mayor of Cádiz Teófila Martínez Saiz
•Our Europe? No “them” and “us” – “We” are all Europe • There is a democratic deficit, a lack of trust – we need to give citizens the opportunity to have their voices heard.

defined in relation to our enemies. It is still a peace project. But this can be fragile and we are grateful to be protected in the EU by an organisation like NATO.


• We need to act more at local level with national, regional and local actors.
•Is there a common EU identity?

• Are we losing or gaining from building commonality? • Should sovereignty make us strong? • Our cultural and shared diversities are what make us rich with tolerance and openness.
•A trusted politician can solve the problem:

Our cultural and shared diversities are what make us rich with tolerance and openness. (participant).


• This is a rare commodity these days, but people still look to politicians to ‘fix it’.
•The EU is defined by its coming together against war as a peace project. We are not


Addressing everyday concerns: consumer policy for EU citizens
What were the most prominent points raised during the morning sessions? Ines and Ilja, from Italy • Correct information and labelling
•Info on consumer rights •Info on quality of products

• How can awareness about consumer policy be ensured all over Europe?

• Active citizenship and participation: Can the EU promote bottom up participation? Key topics discussed with Commissioners Androulla Vassiliou and László Andor • We need to promote a pan-European education and identity • We should work to reduce the gap between schools and the job market. Education does not respond to the job needs. • Active citizenship and participation – People should feel more European. How?


• Protecting consumer rights
•Health issues and quality of products •Fraudulent credit practice

Communication needs to be improved. People need to know about the EU’s added value. (participant).

• Health promotion
•In schools •Cross-border healthcare

The human factor: lifelong learning, jobs and an inclusive society
What were the most prominent points raised during the morning sessions? Dafnie from Cyprus and Amalia from Greece • How to create a pan-European education system?
•Multilingualism •EU in school curriculum


• What is the added value of the EU for the daily life of European consumers? • How can we avoid wasting our resources and use our own local resources instead of importing them from outside? Key topics discussed with Commissioner Neven Mimica • How can healthy food be better promoted? Focus on school – online classroom/school available for teachers? • How can the level of consumer safety for EU citizens be ensured during the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership?


Let's teach European history and open it up to different approaches. (teacher from Finland).

• How can we make stronger connections between employers and universities? Can Europe make the connection between those sectors that can match well? • How can we motivate young people to change attitudes from passive to active regarding employment and life balance? 11


“Don’t turn your back to Europe: engage, debate, propose your ideas!”President José Manuel Barroso
After 50 dialogues held in all EU Member States, on 27 March the European Commission invited over 150 citizens from all the previous events to Brussels for a Pan-European debate. President José Manuel Barroso’s closing dialogue was devoted to the Future of Europe. “We have constructed something very precious,” he said. “Let’s not destroy it. Don’t turn your back to Europe; make Europe better through democratic debate and participation.” President Barroso said in his opening remarks: “While people around the world are looking to Europe as inspiration, […] in Europe there is pessimism. There are many citizens that do not trust our project. […] I think there is an issue here about engagement with the citizens, to have a real panEuropean dialogue to avoid prejudices, to avoid stereotypes, to avoid what some extremists are saying, that ‘Europe is the cause of the problem and not part of the solution’. […] That’s why I very much welcome the opportunity to discuss these matters with you.” Asked by a Cypriot citizen about the need for deeper integration in the EU, President Barroso agreed that a shared currency requires a political union. However, he said that some Member States are not ready for this change yet. “We cannot force a country who does not want to be in a political union to be in one. But we should avoid building new barriers,” he said. The economic crisis and the future of young people were very present throughout the debate. President Barroso mentioned some of the solutions put in place by the EU, such as the Youth Employment Initiative, with Euro 6 billion of funding over a period of seven years. “But these are not definitive solutions. We need to come back to growth that is sustainable, not based on debt.” He also stressed that Europe is above all about solidarity, and that the Union should fight inequalities between countries, communities and generations. 12 One Polish citizen asked why the EU had not yet promised future membership to Ukraine. President Barroso explained that Ukraine is not ready to join the EU and the EU is not ready to integrate Ukraine either. “We offered an association agreement that was signed last week, but the door is not closed to full accession in the future,” he said. President Barroso’s Citizens’ Dialogue on the future of Europe closed a one day event where citizens from all over Europe discussed with ten Commissioners and other European and local politicians about the recovery from the economic crisis, citizens’ rights, the environment and climate change, consumer protection and employment, among other topics. The Pan-European Citizens’ Dialogue was the culmination of a series of over 50 debates in all 28 Member States with more than 16 000 participants. Since September 2012, President José Manuel Barroso and practically all Members of the European Commission have been holding discussions with citizens from all walks of life.

Closing remarks by European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding
“All these dialogues wouldn’t have been a success story without you all. What lessons have I learned? Citizens have said to us, politicians: “If there is a problem, fix it. I would now like to say: you fix it, by going to vote!” This is the end of the Citizens’ Dialogues for now; it is now time for politicians to do their political campaigning for the European elections and for you to vote for a strong Parliament. Europe is all of us: a project for which we share responsibility. Europeans know that Europe is about solidarity, about a helping hand. We all have to contribute to this.”

Thank you! - Ylva Tivéus
"Thank you for having been here! You have made an enormous difference. I hope that you feel as inspired as I do after all these dialogues. This has been a fantastic experience in European democracy! When you get back home, you can also organise your own discussions and debates. I hope that all of you have gotten something out of this and that you are committed to continue your engagement for a better Europe. I would like to thank all our organisers!"

'The Sound of Europe' - Maria Scordialos
"It feels that we have been together for about a week, but it has only been one day! I would like to honour and thank Ylva. I would like to invite what I call the 'sound of Europe' as a final closing. I'm going to pass this microphone around and ask each one of you to say one word in your own native language. What are you going to say to people when you go back home to describe this day? Just one word. We might not understand you with our head but we will hear it with our hearts."


Hope Justice Utopisch Cultura Pravda ενοτητα Unione Responsabilitate Razem Visione Dóchas Europa Liberté Communità Ensemble Intressant Inspirierend Espoir Zukunft Zusammenholen Imbrincada

You rock Identity Democracia Begegnung Μέλλον ∆ηµοκρατία Αειφορία Pluralitat Radość Freude Vielfältigkeit Futuro Engagement Ispirazione Wir Συνυπαρξη Participación

Forza Beitrag Solidarność Lycka

∆ιαλογος Partage Patiencia Friedensmodell Verantwortung Europa Confianza Go Hiontach Ευκαιρια Fierté Αγαπη Persone Wspólnota Elevation Fraternité Dinamismo Empathy Construction Solidarität Opportunità

Comunicazione Cambiamento Consapevolezza Insieme Together Unione Coinvolgimento Gemeinschaft Visionen Echange Inspiration Partycypacja Poder Enthusiasmus Impulsiv Bravissimi Ελπιδα Schuman Participation Togetherness ένωση

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