Lopatka: "European policy belongs in the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs"
Funds for Austrian Development Cooperation must be fought for
Vienna, 2 September 2013 – In his speech before the Austrian Ambassadors and Consuls General at the Ambassadors’ Conference 2013, Austrian State Secretary Dr. Reinhold Lopatka emphasised the importance of European policy for the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs. "The Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and its staff do not only have the negotiation and language skills and specialised knowledge of European affairs – the relevant numbers also speak for themselves. 24 times a year, the Foreign Ministry attends the Council meetings of Foreign and European Affairs Ministers, while the European Council meets just six times a year. Quality and quantity clearly show that European competence lies with the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and that responsibility for European matters belongs there. Any calls from outsiders based on badly researched studies that clamour for a competence shift must be rejected unequivocally."
Europe and European policy are not just confined to Brussels, but must also be lived and communicated in Austria itself, the State Secretary continued. "The Foreign Ministry is the body that has been providing Austrian citizens with information about Europe for many years – through visits to schools, excursions to Brussels, the EU local council initiative, town hall meetings or the "Darum Europa" information tour through Austrian businesses. It is essential that Europe is communicated on every level, starting from the municipal to the state and federal levels. The EU concerns all of us – this must be recognised and explained accordingly", Lopatka continued.
"Communication of European affairs is a massive challenge as EU critics tend to voice their opinions loudly and the institutions in Brussels at times also seem to be oblivious as to whether their actions make sense to the greater public. For this reason, I am strongly in favour of a Convention to be held as soon as possible to initiate an open dialogue on all those areas in which the EU should become stronger in future, for instance the common foreign and security policy or economic and monetary policy, while also examining whether some issues could not be dealt with more effectively on a regional or national level. Europe should not just be confined to Brussels alone", the State Secretary added.
Other topics addressed in the State Secretary’s speech were Austria’s position in the world to strengthen Austria as a “brand”, the promotion of Austria as a business location and the expansion of Austrian foreign trade towards the markets of the future. The role of Austria and Vienna in particular as a location for international organisations with more than 6,000 staff so far should be expanded even further. With regard to development cooperation, Lopatka stated: "Development cooperation plays an important role for me when it comes to the global positioning of Austria. Austrian Development Cooperation has excellent credentials in terms of quality, but we must continue to fight for the necessary funds. The goal is to work on our strengths and our visibility – to do this, we need to cooperate more closely with economic players and also on a European level."
Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
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