Good afternoon, and welcome to our liveblog of today’s “Citizens’ Dialogue” in Győr, Hungary, with László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, starting at 17:00 CET.
This dialogue is one of series the Commission is holding in cities in every EU country, giving ordinary people an opportunity to speak directly to EU politicians about their rights, the kind of Europe they want to live in, and expectations for the European Union.
They follow a call by European Commission President Barroso for an EU-wide debate on proposals to deepen Economic and Monetary Union, and to create a legitimate political union.
“There must be a broad debate all over Europe. A debate of truly European dimension,” he said. “We cannot continue trying to solve European problems just with national solutions. This debate has to take place in our societies and among our citizens”.
The debates are part of the 2013 European Year of Citizens: an entire year dedicated to your rights as a European citizen.
And, that’s all folks! But stay tuned to Debating Europe, because we’ll be exploring some of the issues raised today in greater detail later in the week.
As the debate draws to an end the audience is asked “Do you think this Citizens’ Dialogue gathering is useful?”
A lukewarm response from the crowd:
Yes – 66%
No – 44%
The audience is asked “Will you vote in the 2014 European Parliament elections?”
Given the result is looks like Hungarian’s will be flocking to the polls! Will this really happen next year?
Yes – 80%
No – 20%
EU Commissioner Andor points out there are structural imbalances between the South and North of Europe:
To address this closer cooperation is required, as well as larger solidarity.
The audience has now voted on the following question: “Would you like EU member states to have a closer political cooperation?”
Here’s the Hungarian audience’s feedback:
Yes – 79%
No – 21%
Enikő Győri says that before the crisis more people would have replied yes:
However, they need to remember the benefits that are available, like the reduction in roaming costs, free movement within the Schengen zone, and access to EU funds.
Another question now for the audience: “Is EU membership positive for Hungary?”
A rather positive response:
Yes – 59%
No – 41%
Csaba Őry MEP comments that the EU is now stronger than when the crisis started, but sounds a sobering warning -
A lesson to be taken on board is that people will have to work longer. Another is that the current European social models need to be challenged.
Commissioner Andor comments that the European financial crisis was exacerbated by the EU’s lack of fiscal powers.
The audience is asked another question: “Do you think EU will be stronger after the crisis?”
Not an upbeat picture:
Yes – 23%
No – 77%
Hungarian State Secretary of EU Affairs, Enikő Győri, comments that Hungary has never been an optimistic country..
A question coming from Facebook “When will our pensions be at EU level?”. Commissioner Andor replies:
Stagnant pensions are due to demographic challenges within most member states.
Another question from the audience – “Which educational policies will be discussed at the next EU summit?”
The audience is now asked: “Do EU member countries help each other?”
Here are the results:
Yes – 58%
No – 42%
61% of the audience think their opinion is not listened to in Europe, what do YOU think?
A lady from the audience is expressing her frustration at the EU’s treatment of Hungarian PM Orbán (in January 2011, Hungary found itself at the centre of a controversy over a new media law that threatened to overshadow the country’s EU Presidency and saw thousands take to the streets in protest - last year we had a debate on media pluralism in Europe, take a look here).
Unsurprisingly, the answer given by the audience in the room is no…
The audience is being asked the first question this afternoon: “Do you think your opinion is being listened to in the EU?”
László Andor is now giving his introductory remarks. He is talking about youth unemployment, and how it will be a critical issue during the 2014 European Parliament elections.
Looks like we’re almost ready to start! The moderator is currently warming up the crowd.
On the agenda today is the EU’s response to the crisis and youth unemployment.
Good afternoon, and welcome to our liveblog of today’s “Citizens’ Dialogue” from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Győr-Moson County, Hungary, with László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Enikő Győri, Hungary’s State Secretary of EU Affairs, and Csaba Őry MEP.