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Is my voice being heard in Europe? Cork joins the debate  

The City of Cork hosted a citizen’s dialogue in St. Peters Church Tuesday 27 March under the title ‘Innovative Minds and Real Capitals – European Regional Cities and the future Europe’.

The event was part of the Reflecting on Europe campaign, an initiative of the European Committee of the Regions launched in March 2016 to give citizens a voice in shaping the political debate on the future of Europe.

Councillor McCarthy opened the debate calling local and regional authorities to support citizen’s engagement. “Citizens have a key role to play in our cities’ transition towards more sustainable, healthier and inclusive communities. The role of citizenship should not be underestimated but encouraged”, said Councillor McCarthy.

“We have a great responsibility to bring Europe closer to our citizens. Europe has a role to champion social inclusion more, to invest in community building, work on developing people’s skills and make citizens more engaged. There is an ongoing debate on the future of cohesion and social funds in Europe today. These are at risk and we must together ensure its continuity”, added Councillor McCarthy.

A panel composed of local project leaders briefly presented some ongoing initiatives such as a campaign to promote daily cycling and a community initiative to connect people through arts projects.

Attendees debated around some of the issues most discussed in urban areas today such as the appropriateness of banning cars from city centers to give space back to pedestrians.

Attendees expressed concerns on how the city communicates on new initiatives, as levels of engagement in public consultations remain repeatedly low. On the question, do you think you have a voice in Europe, some recognize local politicians are able to convey their messages at the EU level yet they remain uncertain on its impact.

The event was the occasion to present some of the results of the Reflecting on Europe survey in Ireland.

When asked about the main problems their city or region faces, Irish respond mobility and public transport (27%), unemployment (25%), youth policies (25%), environment (10%), integration of migrants (8%) and security (3%).

Irish believe that the EU is the most suitable level of government to deal with security, terrorist threats and the environment. National is the level of government Irish rely most on (42%), followed by the EU (34%), their city (17%) and region (8%).

A large majority of Irish (71%) believes there is not enough solidarity between European nations. 27% suggest EU countries should show more solidarity by jointly tackling the negative impact of the economic and financial crisis. 25% believe reducing inequalities between richer and poorer should be subject to more solidarity. 20% think Europe should foster cooperation to jointly face the consequences of migration and the refugee crisis. 20% believe EU member states should show greater acceptance of the diversities amongst them.

Since March 2016, members of the European Committee of the Regions have organised over 140 citizens' dialogues in 21 Member Sates. Local debates have actively involved more than 15 000 citizens. Insights from local events and those of the Reflecting on Europe survey will be gathered in an upcoming opinion to be shared amongst EU institutions after its adoption later this year.

Contact: David Crous –

- +32 470 88 10 37

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