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Citizens’ Dialogue in Copenhagen

The event took place on 6 February 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

English

 

"The future of Europe lies in green growth"

 

"The EU is us! The sooner we understand this, the better," said European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, opening the Citizens' Dialogue in Copenhagen on 6 February. About 350 citizens discussed a number of topics with her, including enlargement, energy and democracy.

"It is not about more or less Europe, but about bigger or smaller Europe," said one participant, raising the issue of possible further EU enlargement. Related to this, questions coming in via Twitter raised the issue of whether the EU is doing enough for Ukraine. Commissioner Hedegaard said Europe needed to act in a balanced manner while taking the responsibility it has to help the people and democratic forces in Ukraine to come closer to the EU.

A young participant advised the Commission to focus more on specific initiatives such as the development of smart grids and less on abstract goals. Commissioner Hedegaard argued that Europe needs energy independence and that regardless of specific objectives being agreed among the 28 Member states, it will need to enhance energy efficiency and the use of renewables to achieve this. "The future of our continent lies in linking the need for energy independence objectives with green growth that will create jobs," she said.

On the trade agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and the United States, the Commissioner denied that it will be used to reduce Europe's environmental standards: "On the contrary, we must raise global environmental standards."

Turning to questions related to democracy, one participant asked when Europeans will be able to vote directly for the Commission president. Ms Hedegaard said that she believed this will come one day, but that Europe was not ready for this yet, adding that in her view the time for federalism had not come yet either.

The Citizens' Dialogue in Copenhagen was part of a series of around 50 debates in all Member States. Commission President José Manuel Barroso and practically all Commissioners are participating in discussions with citizens from all walks of life.

What are the dialogues about?

This dialogue is one of series the Commission is holding in cities in every EU country, giving ordinary people an opportunity to speak directly to EU politicians about their rights, the kind of Europe they want to live in, and expectations for the European Union.

They follow a call by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso for an EU-wide debate on proposals to deepen Economic and Monetary Union, and to create a legitimate political union.

“There must be a broad debate all over Europe. A debate of truly European dimension,” he said. “We cannot continue trying to solve European problems just with national solutions. This debate has to take place in our societies and among our citizens”.

Dansk

"Europas fremtid ligger inden for grøn vækst"

"EU er os! Jo hurtigere vi forstår det, jo bedre," sagde EU-kommissær for klimaindsatsen Connie Hedegaard i sin indledning til borgerdialogen i København den 6. februar. Omkring 350 borgere drøftede en række spørgsmål med hende, blandt andre EU-udvidelse, energi og demokrati.

"Det drejer sig ikke om mere eller mindre EU, men om et større eller mindre EU,” mente en deltager, som rejste spørgsmålet om mulige yderligere EU-udvidelser. I forbindelse hermed spurgte flere gennem Twitter, om EU gør nok for Ukraine. Connie Hedegaard svarede, at EU skulle handle på en afbalanceret måde, men leve op til sit ansvar for at hjælpe befolkningen og de demokratiske kræfter i Ukraine med at komme tættere på EU.

En ung deltager rådede Kommissionen til at fokusere mere på specifikke initiativer som udvikling af intelligente net og mindre på abstrakte mål. Connie Hedegaard påpegede, at Europa har brug for energimæssig uafhængighed, og at man, uanset hvilke specifikke mål de 28 EU-lande vedtager, bliver nødt til at øge energieffektiviteten ved at bruge vedvarende energikilder. ”Europas fremtid ligger i at sammenkoble behovet for målsætninger for energimæssig uafhængighed med grøn vækst, der kan skabe job,” sagde hun.

Kommissæren afviste, at den handelsaftale, EU er ved at forhandle på plads med USA, vil blive brugt til at sænke de europæiske miljøstandarder. "Vi skal tværtimod hæve de globale miljøstandarder."

I forbindelse med debatten om demokrati spurgte en af deltagerne, hvornår europæerne får mulighed for at stemme direkte om, hvem der skal være Kommissionens formand. Connie Hedegaard svarede, at det efter hendes opfattelse ville ske en dag, men at Europa endnu ikke var klar til det. Hun tilføjede, at hun mente, at tiden for et føderalt EU heller ikke var inde.

Borgerdialogen i København indgår i en række af omkring 50 debatter i alle EU-landene. Kommissionens formand, José Manuel Barroso, og praktisk taget alle kommissærerne deltager i diskussioner med borgere fra alle samfundslag.

In brief

  • WITH

    Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action

  • ABOUT

    Future of the EU, Citizen involvement and democracy, climate action and growth

  • LIVE

    You can watch the full video here

  • WHERE

    Hotel Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, Ørestads Boulevard 114-118, 2300 København

  • WHEN

    February 6, 5 PM CET.

Comments from the live debate