Vienna, 28 June 2013 – The final event of his DARUM EUROPA tour brought Austrian State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka to Post AG in Vienna today. "The basic idea behind this information tour was to reach even those who are sceptical about the EU and to not leave EU matters to fear mongers. My goal was to visit 28 companies in all the Austrian provinces before July 1st to discuss the EU and current EU issues with the workforce at each one", Lopatka said.
The number 28 was chosen intentionally, as Croatia will join the European Union as its 28th member on 1 July 2013. On his DARUM EUROPA information tour, the Austrian State Secretary met with more than 2000 employees and 100 executives between November 2012 and June 2013 to convey facts and dispel misunderstandings in open discussions.
"Sharing the facts and illustrating the benefits that Austria derives from its EU membership were matters of personal concern to me: We earn 6 out of every 10 euros from exports; 70 percent of our exports go to other EU nations. Since Austria's accession in 1995, exports have tripled and 13,000 additional jobs have been created every year. The people who attended the information events were aware of the fact that Europe must stay competitive so that with only 7% of the world's population the EU can continue to account for 25% of world economic output in global competition with China, India and the USA and to ensure that we can continue to afford our European model of life", the State Secretary said.
The citizens have many questions and also worries relating to the EU and the euro, and these questions and concerns must be taken seriously. However, there is also a clear wish for more information and in a form that is easy to understand. The EU is perceived as a complex structure distant from the citizen, and it is not hard to understand why technical EU debates about EFSF, ESM or Six-Pack are difficult to follow. People also want more direct contacts with persons who are willing and able to answer their questions. The possibility I have had to answer the numerous questions the people have raised was in itself worth the many kilometres I have travelled through Austria and I would like to thank the companies that have made all of this possible", Lopatka continued. "To my mind this is a clear mandate for all policy-making levels to dedicate more time and effort to EU matters and inform our citizens about them. The Municipal Councillors for European Affairs initiative of the Foreign Ministry is heading precisely in the right direction here."
"I have also gained valuable insights: No matter whether the companies are large globally active corporates or medium-sized family enterprises, they all showed that they know how to benefit from the opportunities of the European market and are able to secure jobs and even create new ones thanks to the chances the market offers. It was clear for me to see that the workforce has no doubts about the many opportunities the EU offers the companies they work for and they thus also understand the important role the EU plays", Lopatka said.
The DARUM EUROPA information tour was supported by the Austrian Economic Chamber, the Federation of Austrian Industries and the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions. Representatives of municipalities, such as mayors, members of the national and the regional parliaments, as well as MEPs also participated in the information events. The State Secretary was accompanied among others, by ambassadors of EU member states such as France and Germany, who supported him by presenting the views and opinions of their countries. The Croatian ambassador was among those who took part in the event series, presenting the perspective of Croatia, the 28th EU member state.
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