Europe is experiencing turbulent times – and Austrians have many questions about the future of our continent and the European Union. Mayors and local councillors are important contacts when the focus is on the economic, political and social development of Europe. After all, many decisions taken at EU level reach far into the context of Austria’s municipalities – and they are implemented at local level.
This is why in 2010, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and the European Commission Representation in Austria founded the initiative “Europe starts at the local level”. It aims at turning as mayors and local councillors in as many Austrian towns and villages as possible into so-called “European local councillors”.
So far, 900 of these local representatives of Europe are in regular contact with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, receiving information about ongoing developments in Europe that is tailored to their needs. The European local councillors have the know-how, experience and contacts that make them perfect brokers of EU-related information in their municipalities. This way, the EU becomes more tangible for Austria’s citizens; their concerns are addressed and their questions are answered by competent persons.
The initiative has been a success story since its inception. More than 900 European local councillors from all political parties are already at work in all the provinces of Austria – and their number is growing steadily. Recent surveys confirm the long-term impact of the initiative and the work of its highly engaged members: In the past few years, commitment to Europe in Austria’s municipalities has increased significantly.
Meanwhile, this idea, which is unique in Europe, has spread across the borders, also being adopted by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano – South Tyrol.
Today, it is absolutely right when people in Austria say: “Europe starts at the local level”.
For more information (in German) please follow this link.