Spindelegger: Bringing Europe closer to the people
Austrian Vice Chancellor stresses importance of clearly showing the value-added offered by EU membership at the European Conference of the Upper House of Austrian Parliament in Graz
Graz, 9 May 2012 – At the European Conference held by the Upper House of Austrian Parliament in Graz today, Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger stressed that “we must do everything in our power to boost the trust of our citizens in the EU and in the skills of the member states, especially in times when the efforts of the European Union are dedicated to mastering the current financial and economic crisis.”
The issue will also be on the agenda of the upcoming informal meeting of the Reflection Group on the Future of the Union that will be attended by foreign ministers from 11 EU countries. At the meeting in Vienna next week, proposals for achieving a better citizen participation in European decision-making processes are to be worked out. "Creating a "People’s Europe” is one of our central concerns”, Spindelegger said and continued: "The new European citizens’ initiative is an important step in this direction and opens up a wealth of new options. But we still need to improve. I, for my part, think that a direct election of the President of the European Commission could be an interesting way to increase political participation at EU level.”
Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Spindelegger also said that the actual added value of EU membership lies in the common values such as “freedom” and “security” that Europe shares. “It is our fundamental task and our responsibility to remind the citizens of Europe of this added value in order to push ahead the project of European integration. The dialogue with Austrian citizens about Europe has always been highly important to me. I have had many opportunities to discuss the European Union with our citizens on my "listening tour" through the country and at regular dialogue events in the federal provinces. In June, I am going to launch new style discussion rounds”, Spindelegger said announcing a series of “town hall meetings”.
“Active support for the new member states on their approach to the EU has always been of great concern to Austria and still is. With Croatia, we are welcoming friends and neighbours as 28th EU member state. Our good cooperation illustrates the close relationships between our two countries. I am convinced that Croatia will share its expertise and experience with its neighbours and the region to support their integration too", Spindelegger concluded.
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