Strasbourg, 27 September 2005 - "We have to approach people and conduct the dialogue on Europe differently; not in a high-handed manner, but face to face", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik in Strasbourg on Tuesday at the annual europa-forum of the German broadcasting company Westdeutscher Rundfunk.
Together with Plassnik, the Dutch Secretary of State for European Affairs, Atzo Nicolai, and the Vice President of the European Commission, Margot Wallström, among others, discussed the topic "Europe’s salutary crisis - What will become of the European Constitution?".
"Many people are experiencing a feeling of crisis. They are worrying about their place in a globalised world and are feeling uneasy about the way in which the Member States and the European Union pursue politics and how they work. We have to take this feeling of uneasiness seriously and pay heed to it in our political efforts", said Foreign Minister Plassnik.
In a first initiative, Austria had already made an offer of dialogue to the citizens before the summer: "Under the title EUROPE IS LISTENING we have invited people to tell us their ideas, wishes and concerns. The good news is that Europe touches peoples’ emotions. From the statements we have received from the Austrians we can see that Europe is a subject that stirs their minds and their hearts", continued the Foreign Minister.
The credibility of Europe also depended on how the European Union dealt with delicate future issues: "We need more clarity and transparency in the discussion", said Plassnik, adding that Austria was trying to live up to this principle, for instance, with regard to the question of starting negotiations with Turkey.
Foreign Minister Plassnik also called for a "well-balanced equilibrium in all arrangements at a European, national, regional, and community level" to ensure that "the citizens feel more comfortable with our European identity".