The “Do you speak European?” grand final featured competitors from Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom
Brussels (B), 3rd December 2008
“Being involved in this unique event makes me realize that I’m part of the wider European family”, said Georgiana Cosoveanu from the Dolj team of Romania after her team won the grand final of the inaugural “Do you speak European?” competition. “I feel proud of such a rich cultural patrimony. I’ve also managed to understand that thee is a strong connection between our regional values and the general European beliefs.”
The Dolj region team from Romania
Hosted by the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and the Brussels Capital region, today’s grand final capped off a series of 36 regional and 11 national-level competitions held over the past 12 months across the wider Europe.
The 11 young teams competing today gave short artistic performances in response to the question: “What does Europe mean to you?” The presentations were judged on originality, creativity, and the ability to “speak” to the 1000-strong audience in an authentic European voice.
Supporters from Brussels and the 11 competing European regions - AER's Youth and Citizenship Officer, Malgorzata Kucinska
AER Secretary-General Klaus Klipp said during the final: "AER has always strived to bridge the gap between Europe and its citizens, and this competition does that by encouraging competitors to speak with a voice that is both distinctly regional and truly European. Today’s grand final has also shown that young people are able to “speak European” regardless of their background and nationality – the Croatian and Turkish presentations were just as “European” as those of their counterparts from EU countries such as Belgium and the UK.”
The Brussels Capital Minister for External Relations, Guy Van Engel, said: "To get closer to its citizens, Europe needs to take the opinion of young people into account and lend its ear to their aspirations. These young persons are the living forces of tomorrow’s Europe. As the capital of Europe, the Brussels Capital Region also needs to offer youngsters, Europe's future, an opportunity to express their opinion. The 'Do you speak European?' contest will without a doubt offer young people the right leverage to access the European institutions.”
Quotes from some of the grand finalists:
Somerset team (United Kingdom)
Becky Beagle: “Taking part in the ‘Do You Speak European?’ has raised our awareness of what Europe does and how it works".
Vastra Gotaland team (Sweden)
Matilda Hansfeldt: “We believe a European voice does exist, because we all have something in common while coming from different backgrounds.”
Kocaeli team (Turkey)
Gülşah Adıyaman: "I think Europe means cultural richness, social harmony, technological developments and a quality education. For me to speak European means to benefit from the economic, scientific, technical and educational progress of Europe.”
The Dolj region team was awarded first place by a jury comprised of Françoise Chotard (Bureau Île-de-France Europe), Pandora Ellis (West-Sussex Youth Council), Mélanie Fortier (Conseil régional du Centre), Kadri Vanem (European Youth Forum), Anne-Maire Le Claire (European Commission DG Education and culture, Youth Policy Unit), Giulio Pecora (ANSA) and Michaela Petz (Verbindungsbüro Salzburg).
Further information and photos of the “Do you speak European?” competition are available at:
Brussels Capital Information Day:
Together with today’s competition grand final, Brussels Capital hosted an information day on jobs, education, culture, travels and languages under the title: “What can Europe do for you(th)?”. Further information about the initiative is available at: www.dyse.irisnet.be
Richard Medic, Spokesperson / Director of Press and Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org -Tel (mob) +33 678 695 235
Valentina Guerra, Press and Communications Assistant, email@example.com, - Tel./ Fax : +33 3 88 22 74 33
Malgorzata Kucinska, Youth and Citizenship Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org, - Tel./ Fax : +33 3 88 22 74 32