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AGM Brussels Meeting 17-19 March 2013

Welcome addresses

Anni Podimata, Vice-President responsible for Information and Communication Policy, European Parliament

Viviane Reding, Vice President responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and citizenship, European Commission

North, South, West, East – we all do the same. We interact with people. Europe is about 500 million people. It is about our citizens and we have the responsibility in every matter. The most crucial factor is the understanding of our citizens. Even if the question is strange it is important as it is the impression of Europe which cares and not within the ivory tower of Brussels.

About 70% of our citizens feel European. Everything they do not know we need to inform them by the means of Europe Direct Information Centres. 500 offices are spread to cater for 500 million citizens. If one loses nerves; Europe also loses its nerves. At the end, answer goes to the citizens.

José Manuel Barroso, the 11th and current President of the European Commission; last September (2012) stated that: We need serious discussion between citizens of Europe about a way forward. If we propose we have to elaborate with citizens who come at the beginning till the end. Therefore it entails stronger links among policymakers but from bottom up not top down. The future is shaped with EU citizens especially for the European elections of 2014 which are of utmost important.

Every citizen understands his voice counts. In European elections they do not quite understand their voice, what do they have as power? Laws are applied to citizens and we need to inform them they have direct representation in Parliament. The role of EDIC is to convince its citizens they have a role to play. This is directly linked to the bigger picture not on personal affairs of citizens but on the future of Europe mainly the view which has to come before elections. Europe is the solution to the problem. Europe is done by 500 million each, small pieces of the overall picture. A small element of painting has value of precious painting.

Vice-President Reding put forward her thoughts – We live with and share and communicate European idea. European is not yet complete. We need to highlight what the problems are. We have shared experiences as Reding said, interest is growing in Europe. This is due to the crisis and people feel that with more information we can overcome European cooperation. Distance between Europe and its citizens needs to be bridged. We have the Commission Representation, the Parliament Representation and we have Europe Direct. Citizens are interested in institutional horse riding but how institutions work together is the added value of society of which will affect the daily life of its own citizens.

Information and communication should not be divided among institutions; so work together to achiever inter-institutional cooperation to improve communication with citizens. 2013 is the European year of citizens. For 20 years we had the notion of European citizenship so this makes European citizen yet sometimes misrepresent i.e. show two sides of the coin. The figure role of European citizen is to increase participation of citizen European democracy therefore greater awareness on putting more sense to democracy whilst enhancing more communication to our citizens. National elections need to be more European-oriented.

EU Parliamentarians are a way to Europe. We should not be anonymous but we have to get a clear logo and brand and right to vote more personal. Show individuals that they are associated with Europe. National representation needs to be also involved.

Vice-President stated “We need to do our best to see what Europeans want”. During last months 29 decisions were approved on economic decisions. We need access of information and dialogue to create a critified version of the future.

Ms. Maria Portelli