Citizens in Cluj-Napoca have today highlighted youth, mobility and unemployment as the main concerns for their region during a town hall debate, organised with support from the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). The event launched the CoR's "Reflecting on Europe" campaign – an initiative which offers space for citizens to present their ideas, thoughts and opinions on the future of the European Union – in Romania, with the aim for it to be replicated in other cities and regions. The debate took place alongside the EU conference on Open Innovation 2.0.
Historically called "The Heart of Transylvania", the city of Cluj-Napoca is a green and dynamic city focused on entrepreneurship. Being home to one of the largest universities in the country, it was no surprise that calls for greater support for youth and education policies from the local, national and EU levels were voiced.
''You are all pioneers thanks to the Cluj-Napoca mentality towards citizen and business inclusion in decision-making. By voicing your experiences and concerns, we can take better account of citizens' views and use them to shape the well-being of the entire community and the EU at large" Markku Markkula , President of the European Committee of the Regions, underlined.
"In order to have a stronger European Union, we have to listen more to the voice of the people from cities and regions of European Union" said Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and member of the CoR. The former Prime Minister added: "They will make Europe stronger through a bottom-up process of consolidation of the European Union."
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.
The format of the CoR town hall debate fills well into the context of the Open Innovation 2.0 (OI2) conference given the participatory nature and ambition to co-create answers to European societal challenges, which go beyond the scope of what any one organization or person could do alone. Local and regional efforts are crucial to create the necessary open and functional innovation ecosystems that will allow for completion of the Digital Single Market.
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.