Brussels (B), 19 March 2009.
A recent Eurobarometer survey suggesting that regional and local authorities are the most trustworthy levels of governance provided a timely framework to an Assembly of European Regions’ (AER) atelier that concluded today at the Baden-Württemberg representation office in Brussels.
How can the European institutions inspire trust among citizens? How can they ensure that citizens are not only properly informed about issues such as consumer protection and the upcoming European Parliament elections, but also have real confidence in the European institutions dealing with these issues?
While offering a range of diverse opinions in response to these questions, guests from the European regions, institutions, NGOs and media did agree on one key point: that building trust in the European institutions starts with the regions.
Joe Leinen, Member of European Parliament and President of the EP Consitutional Committee
Regional authorities are a partner of the European Parliament because they represent the needs and the hopes of citizens. And together we have to show citizens that the challenges of globalisation are something the member states alone cannot solve – and that’s why we need the regions, just as we need the European Parliament.
Zsuzsanna Mesteller, Europe Direct, Heves region (HU)
(The region won AER’s 2008 Communicating Europe Award in the category “Children and Youth”.)
The fact that local politicians were involved in our project “European Classrooms” really helped us to bring the concept closer to pupils, since the politicians spoke in a way that our schools could relate to. Our schools know and trust our local politicians, and this made it a lot easier for us to “communicate Europe” in the classroom.
Jaume Duch, Spokesman of the European Parliament
The regions are very important in helping the European institutions to connect and re-connect with citizens. As the European Parliament prepares for the upcoming elections, this kind of exercise can only be successful with the support of those who are working with citizens on everyday issues, and that is the regions.
Petra Kohnen, Head of EURANET project, Deutsche Welle, Bonn
The regions are important because they can really feel what is going on in Europe, while the media can listen to what’s going on in the regions, bring it to a bigger platform and show it to other people in Europe. How can farmers in a Polish rural region, for example, communicate their problems to a large audience – it’s through the media.
Nikiforos Diamandouros, European Ombudsman
We are all in one way or another focused on how to bring Europe closer to its citizens. A result-oriented, service-minded and open European administration is key to improving relations between citizens, NGOs, companies, associations and the EU institutions and to building trust.
For more information and presentation materials from the atelier see: http://www.aer.eu/events/standing-committee-on-institutional-affairs/2009/aer-communication-atelier-2009.html
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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