“Reflecting on Europe”: Report highlights citizens’ expectations toward the EU

“Reflecting on Europe”: Report highlights citizens’ expectations toward the EU

The preliminary report on the “Reflecting on Europe” initiative was presented on April 11, providing insights into the way citizens want to see the EU develop in the future.

Results collected by the European Committee of the Regions so far have shown that political issues, whether global, European or national, are always seen through a local frame of view, whereas a majority of respondents also call for more solidary between EU countries, stressing the need for more direct and permanent channels of dialogue with the EU.

Since March 2016, the Committee of the Regions has organised 150 citizens’ dialogues in almost all Member States, listening to about 30 000 citizens in 81 regions, 114 cities and municipalities.

Around 15 000 people have also taken part in the Committee of the Regions’ online survey about the future of the EU and its main policies.

Unemployment appears to be the main preoccupation of EU citizens, while the majority of respondents turn to the EU when it comes to asking for a solution to a problem.

Speaking at the meeting of the CoR’s Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs about the preparation of the Committee of the Regions report, President Karl-Heinz Lambertz said: “I want to ensure we report back as faithfully as possible about what citizens and local and regional authorities have said during our dialogues. We need to underline that cities and regions are a key part of the chain to strengthen European democracy. Finally, and something of crucial importance, we should end with some concrete suggestions and recommendations for the future of Europe and how to reconnect it to its citizens”.

The main findings of the consultation include the following:

-There is a certain level of discontent and disconnection towards the EU, a feeling that does not only concern their perception of the EU but politics in general;

-Citizens have in general little knowledge about what the EU is and what it is doing;

-Positive signals, however, emerge, in particular from the younger generation that appreciates the benefits of the EU, especially free movement, education, mobility opportunities and environment policies;

-People demand higher levels of transparency and more active ways to become involved with the EU;

-Local and regional politicians enjoy higher level of trust than EU or national representatives;

-About 80% of the respondents say that they expect more solidarity between rich and poor member states and regions;

-In addition to freedom, prosperity and mobility, people ask for a more active Europe in education, environment and security.

The Committee of the Regions draft opinion on the future of Europe is due to be adopted by the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) on July 10, before the final adoption in the Committee of the Regions’ plenary session on October 9, 2018… / IBNA