A few months after its launch, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR)' " Reflecting on Europe " campaign aiming at collecting citizens' concerns and expectations at the grassroots, is gaining rapid momentum. As highlighted yesterday during the meeting of the CoR's Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX), more than 50 citizens' dialogues and town hall debates have been held in 19 EU Member States since March 2016. Those debates involved about 170 CoR members and reached out to 20.000 people in 160 regions and cities across Europe. 90 further local events are foreseen before in 2017, which will amount to a total of 135 local debates in 2016-2017. The results will feed in to the CoR contribution to the current political reflection on Europe's future.
As part of the current political reflection on the future of Europe, European Council President Tusk has asked the CoR to send its recommendations from the perspective of cities and regions, stating that the "purpose of the referral would be to receive a real perception of the reality from the European grassroots level". The CoR position will draw from its "Reflecting on Europe" initiative, which provides a unique platform for citizens’ participation in the ongoing debate. The aim is to go local, listen to and collect citizens’ and regional and local authorities' opinions and proposals about how the EU should evolve in the next decade. The CIVEX Commission is actively involved in this process, in particular by supporting the work of the rapporteurs, CoR President Markku Markkula and First Vice-President Karl-Heinz Lambertz , on this topic.
Speaking during yesterday's CIVEX meeting, President Markkula said: "Momentum is growing to build a better Europe - based on mutual and shared responsibility across the EU and across different levels of government. From the Rome declaration to the forward - looking statements made by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, we know that reforms are on the horizon. We need to showcase that political leaders, especially those closest to citizens, can really respond to their concerns and that with the help of cities and regions we can we make the EU more human, simpler and closer to the people. Having visited all 28 Member States during my mandate, I had the opportunity to engage in very interesting debates with citizens from all sections of society. Seeing these events happen in every corner of Europe and with our CoR members in the driving seat makes me very proud".
Mr Markkula referred to his participation to the recent citizens' dialogues held in in Cluj-Napoca (13 June) together with Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, former Prime Minister of Romanian and CoR member, Athens (19 June) together with CoR member Giorgos Kaminis, Mayor of the Greek capital, where attending citizens shared their concerns and hopes for the future of Europe, and presented collective initiatives to address the challenges affecting their everyday city life. President Markku Markkula also participated in a citizens' dialogue in Thessaloniki on 20th June, which was hosted by Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia and CoR member and attended by Prokopis Pavlopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic. More than 400 citizens participated in the debate, discussing a wide range of topics including the role of the EU as a global player, EU integration, tourism, economy and entrepreneurship.
First Vice-President Lambertz remarked: "The overwhelming response by so many local and regional leaders to be involved in this initiative demonstrates that their citizens want to be heard. They want to share their concerns, views and vision on Europe's future, on their future. If the EU is to overcome the crisis in confidence it needs to listen local and deliver local for every citizen. Europe's future lies in giving more say to its regions, cities, towns and villages".
"Reflecting on Europe": citizens' survey and interactive map
A comprehensive set of tools has been developed to promote the Reflecting on Europe exercise, to collect participants' views and support CoR Members in the organisation of local debates.
The main tool for collecting citizens' feedback is the " Reflecting on Europe e-survey " available in all EU languages. The survey is made of a set of closed and open questions on the future of Europe and allows for feedback to be sent to respondents to ensure they are consistently informed about the CoR action to represent their views. Over 2160 responses to the survey have been registered so far.
an interactive map , including all relevant information on the ongoing local debates by country, is available online, including details on CoR members involved, partners, agenda and reports.
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