Today, April 2, 2019, Secretary of State for European Affairs Melania-Gabriela Ciot participated in the debates on “Citizens’ Dialogues” and “Citizens’ Consultations on the Future of Europe”, which were organised by the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs in Brussels.
In her capacity as Special Representative of the Romanian Government for the Relationship with the European Parliament during the Romanian Council Presidency, the Secretary of State took the floor in the opening session and presented the main results of the citizens’ consultations on the future of Europe, which were carried out between April and November 2018.
The official in the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred to the scope of the consultations in every Member State. At European Union level, they accounted for a sample of around 150 000 people.
The Secretary of State reiterated the importance of that initiative both for the Member States and for the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU: “I have actively supported the initiative of citizens’ consultations, as it sends a signal that their opinions are important to us and should be taken into account when the future of Europe is shaped.”
She pointed out that one of the relevant outcomes of the consultations was that the EU enjoyed a positive perception, as the citizens acknowledged their countries’ EU membership as valuable despite all challenges.
EU citizens are concerned, inter alia, about migration, the European single market, an important element in ensuring economic growth throughout Europe, about technological developments, a stronger environmental policy, the fight against poverty and social exclusion, about unemployment and discrimination.
The conclusions drawn from this initiative also highlighted a perceived gap in the living standards of different Member States, as well as the expectation for such gap to be closed. In that connection, the citizens stressed out the need for better jobs, gender equality, better healthcare services and a greater engagement of the European Union in education.
With regard to foreign policy, the results pointed out that citizens wanted a greater unity, as “Europe is perceived as a positive driver”, and asked for “actions that would strengthen the sense of community and the development of a European identity”.
At the end of her speech, the Secretary of State welcomed the COR and EESC’s proposal to establish a permanent mechanism for structured consultations with the “citizens, cities, regions and the civil society” and thanked all the participating institutions for their “extremely important” engagement.