A lively Citizens' Dialogue took place on 14 November 2013 with Commission Vice-President and EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and the French Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira. More than 550 citizens debated issues such as the European Banking Union and the meaning of solidarity with the weaker members of society.
"The single most effective step to stop the speculation against the Eurozone was ECB President Mario Draghi's announcement to do everything to stabilize the common currency.", Commission Vice-President Reding said during a passionate debate which also focused on the financial crisis. Many citizens were concerned about the role of banks in the crisis and the social impact of decisions taken by the Member States to consolidate their budgets. While Ms Reding underlined that jobs could only be created if businesses had access to credit, French Justice Minister Taubira thought that "we have to consider whether commercial banking and investment banking should not be separated". Both politicians emphasised that only governments and institutions that are legitimised through a strong popular vote can make strong decisions.
A part of the Citizens' Dialogue was taking a new look at the meaning of solidarity by addressing development cooperation with Africa, the rights of children and generational issues. "If there is corruption and a lack of democracy, there is only individual, but no collective prosperity", Christiane Taubira opined.
Viviane Reding advocated taking into consideration all parts of society and practice solidarity with all generations. The same applied to the 10 million Roma in Europe, she argued, and expressed her hope that national governments would make it easier for local administrations to make use of EU funds for the education, health, housing and employment of Roma.
The debate on the future of Europe mainly addressed the question of how citizens can be encouraged to participate. Christine Taubira called for strengthening the capacity of Europeans to live European citizenship; Viviane Reding underscored that Europe has to be present where citizens live and highlighted the important work of the Europe Direct Information Centres.
The Citizens' Dialogue in Marseille is part of a series of some 50 debates in all Member States. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and practically all Commissioners are participating in discussions with citizens from all walks of life.
Will be available soon