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Europaforum Wachau: Passionate debate on the future of Europe

(18 May 2014)

Europaforum Wachau: Passionate debate on the future of Europe

Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, participated on 18 May in the high level public debate "Europaforum Wachau", which is one of the most renowned annual discussion events dedicated to European issues in Austria.

In view of the recent developments in the Ukraine this year's Europaforum dealt with topics such as the EU's Strategic Partnerships, Enlargement and the future of the European Foreign and Security Policy. In his key note speech Commissioner Hahn pointed to the fact that "the process of 1989 which paved the way for the EU accession of 12 new Member States has not been completed yet". With reference to the fragile situation in the EU's immediate neighbourhood, the Commissioner warned of "building new barriers and walls", stressing the importance of peaceful political and economic co-operation.

As for Enlargement, Commissioner Hahn confirmed the European perspective for the Western Balkans, underlining however that "quality comes before speed". He highlighted in this context the Commission's new approach towards candidate countries by starting negotiations with the chapters dedicated to the rule of law and the reform of the judicial systems. Referring to the disastrous floods in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hahn expressed his solidarity with the victims of the disaster and promised quick help via the European Civil Protection Mechanism and the European Solidarity Fund.

The Commissioner closed his speech with an appeal to the audience to be more self-confident as Europeans and to trust, despite all difficulties, in the value of the European project. "We have every reason to be proud of the EU's achievements and of the concrete benefits such as a high living standards, stability and peace, which the EU guarantees for its citizens. Any further development must build on these achievements, extending gradually and continuously the EU's economic and political integration, whilst fully respecting the principle of subsidiarity".