Wien, 17. December 2012 Press release

Annual Assembly of the Municipal Councillors for European Affairs in Vienna

Initiative already has 500 members

Vienna, 17 December 2012 - At the second general assembly of the members of the initiative of Municipal Councillors for European Affairs held at Palais Niederösterreich in Vienna today, the 500th member of the initiative was welcomed. Much to the delight of Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger who had launched the initiative together with the Representation Office of the European Union in Vienna in 2010: "I am happy that so many municipalities have appointed contact persons for EU matters. The voluntary service provided by these people is of particular importance now that scepticism vis-à-vis the EU is growing. As "Municipal Councillors for European Affairs" you fulfil a bridging function providing information about the EU at local level. The multi-faceted activities and projects of the Municipal Councillors for European Affairs are important elements in the communication about the European project."

After the welcoming words of Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Spindelegger, State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka and the representative of the European Commission in Vienna, Richard Kühnel, the municipal councillors engaged in a discussion with the Austrian members of the European Parliament Ulrike Lunacek, Paul Rübig and Josef Weidenholzer. Presentations by Walter Grahammer, permanent representative of Austria at the EU and the Director of the Department for European Affairs of the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Thomas Mathà, and an EU Information Exchange made the general assembly complete.

"Talking and informing about Europe means most of all to demystify Europe, to take away false fears and worries and to correct half-truths and untruths. It also means offering criticism if something goes wrong. What is most important is to illustrate the benefits that Austria can draw from its membership in the European Union. You as representatives of your communities know best how important personal exchange and direct contact are. I would like to thank you most warmly for your commitment to Europe", the Vice-Chancellor continued.

The initiative aims at making Europe more tangible at local level. To this end, the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs offers various services, such as information tours to Brussels, training seminars, and much more. The initiative receives great support from the European Partnership (www.zukunfteuropa.at). Network meetings, such as the event today which was dedicated to information and exchange, are important elements of the initiative. 

The DARUM EUROPA information tour is also part of the talking about Europe initiative. The information tour takes State Secretary Lopatka to companies in all nine Austrian provinces where he discusses questions relating to the EU in various companies. "Many questions can be answered and many fears and worries can be taken away in direct encounters. I wish to provide facts and counter false statements. The visits that I have already made to Austrian companies have clearly shown that people wish for more information about Europe", the State Secretary said.

Contact:
Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3320
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e-mail: abti3(at)bmeia.gv.at