Wien, 11. November 2005 Press release

"My offer - starting a dialogue about Europe"

11.11.2005

Plassnik: "The direct exchange of opinions with our citizens is an essential part of good preparations for Austria’s EU Presidency"

Vienna, 11 November 2005 - "The dialogue with our citizens is an important component of our preparations for the EU Presidency. This exchange of opinions is valuable and will be taken into account in our preparations", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik at the final event of the "Europe Road Show".

"We can only ensure that Europe will regain its momentum, if we take the concerns and fears as well as the many suggestions of the citizens seriously and listen to them with a big European ear. Europe belongs to its citizens. It is also our common responsibility. It is important to get this across. We therefore have to meet halfway and seek intensive dialogue", said Plassnik.

"Europe is neither a super state nor a supermarket. It is a sophisticated balance entailing peace, security, social safeguards, a sustainable economy and the future prospects of our youth", added the Foreign Minister.

Plassnik also referred to the initiative of the EU Commission to streamline existing laws and jettison ballast. "The EU Commission’s plan to scrap 222 basic rules and streamline laws is an important step. The administration of the European model requires a certain input. We want to make it as simple as possible", said the Foreign Minister.

In a first step, she had launched the initiative "EUROPA HOERT ZU" (Europe is listening) together with the Federal Chancellor. It enables all citizens to get quick and simple answers to specific questions or to formulate suggestions concerning Europe via the Internet. This initiative will be supplemented by a comprehensive information campaign about Europe and will continue on the website www.zukunfteuropa.at.

"An important complementary project is the "Europe Road Show", an event organised in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, which is making this event possible", said Plassnik.

Within the framework of the "Europe Road Show" a "Europe Bus" has been touring the federal provinces, providing information on Europe, entertainment and the opportunity to speak with EU experts. The expectations, hopes, criticism and fears of the Austrian people can be discussed with EU representatives, members of the European Parliament and politicians, and will then be taken into account in the forthcoming EU Presidency.

"The development in the Balkans in particular has demonstrated the success of the European peace project. The prospect of accession to the EU is prompting people in the Balkans to overcome their historic conflicts and look to the future together", concluded Plassnik.

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