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Europe Day with Commissioner Hahn: reaching out to citizens

(09 May 2014)

Europe Day with Commissioner Hahn: reaching out to citizens

EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, used the occasion of Europe Day to engage two days long in discussions with citizens, stakeholders and journalists at various events in Vienna and Austrian regions. "Europe Day is a day to make us aware of the achievements of European Integration as well as of the challenges ahead. But it is, above all, a day to reach out to citizens by explaining and discussing the European project".

The Commissioner's activities started on 9 May with a visit to a Vienna European school in order to discuss, together with State Secretary for Finance, Sonja Stessl, European topics with more than three hundred pupils. During the discussion at HTL (Höhere Technosche Lehranstalt) Donaustadt in Vienna the Commissioner explained the EU's response to concerns such as data protection, the financial crisis, migration, youth unemployment and economic imbalances. Reminding of the special situation in Austria where young people have to right to vote already at an age of 16, the Commissioner closed the debate with the following appeal: "The European elections are a unique opportunity to engage actively in shaping Europe's future. It's your future, therefore it's important to make your voices heard by using your voting rights".

One of the highlights was the traditional Europe Day event at the "House of the European Union", where Commissioner Hahn participated in a public discussion on the topic of "European Identity". During the high level event which featured Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, former EP President Klaus Hänsch and the well-known artists Cornelius Obonya and Krista Stadler, as speakers, Commissioner Hahn addressed the values of the European project. "Especially in view of recent events in our neighbourhood, it is important to remind us of the privilege to live in a community safeguarding stability, peace and decent living conditions". The Commissioner added: "European and national identities are not contrary but complementary concepts. Culture in all its diversity reflects European identity at its best. Hundreds of cross-border projects all over Europe contribute to a better mutual understanding, productive exchange and intensified co-operation".

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