Around 400 citizens and representatives of local and regional administrations, civil society and businesses attended the first Polish Town Hall debate organised by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Podkarpackie region on 4 February. The event was organised as part of the CoR's "Reflecting on Europe" – an initiative which offers space for citizens to present their ideas, thoughts and opinions on the future of the European Union.
"Poland is Europe's flagship example that Europe matters by showing that through dedication and hard work, the EU can benefit communities. But the question is: do the citizens, their families, friends and communities also feel or see those benefits the EU brings in their daily lives? We are here to listen to everyone about his or her concerns, local challenges and vision for Europe. So though Brussels may seem distant, through the Committee's members your voice in the EU is heard ", said CoR President Markku Markkula.
Beata Szydło , Prime Minister of Poland, said: "Thanks to the presence of the President of the CoR, we are here today talking about Europe and its future. For Poland there is no doubt that the European Union needs to reform. Europeans must have the feeling that the EU is for them and deals with issues that are close to their hearts. We need to debate our different views, because this is the essence of democracy. At the same time we need to look for the best solutions, taking into account the development potential of individual regions and individual countries. Finally, we have to focus on issues that matter most to the people."
"The voice of local government cannot be left out in the ongoing debate about the future of the EU's cohesion policy. We want the cohesion policy and the use of the Funds to continue. However, we need to improve and better plan this policy area so as to give sub-national government at all levels a better chance at achieving economic development. The Exhibition and Congress G2A Arena Center, where we met today as well as the Science and Technology Park, the Special Economic Zone and the airport in Jasionka show that we are able to use EU funds effectively and skillfully and the result serves not only Podkarpackie region but the whole country", stated Władysław Ortyl (ECR/PL), Marshal of the Podkarpackie Region and co-organiser of the event.
Olgierd Geblewicz (EPP/PL) , and Marshal of the West-Pomerania, replacing the Head of the CoR's Polish Delegation stated: "A strong Europe is based on the principle of subsidiarity, established in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, whose 25th anniversary will be celebrated on 7 February. That is why Polish regions will defend this principle, proving that the most effective governments are those closest to citizens. "
The CoR is committed to making citizens' voices heard in shaping the on-going political debate on the future of Europe and to bring their concerns and concrete proposals to the EU level debate. Statements and conclusions of this debate as well as an online survey carried out during the event will feed into the CoR contribution to the Reflection on the EU.
Note to editors
The European Committee of the Regions is organising a series of open debates in towns , cities and regions. Citizens’ views will be formally fed back in a report to be submitted to the European Council's President. The Committee is also encouraging regional and local councils to hold their own debates, including in their own institutional bodies, on the future of Europe to ensure that citizens' are heard during this time of reflection.
Letter of the President of the European Council to the European Committee of the Regions.
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