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Citizens' dialogue in Dublin

Dubliners hold frank debate with politicians

Concerns over everyday issues such as the needs of families, working women, consumers and young job-seekers were the topics of an open debate in Dublin.

"Pessimism and indifference are the real threat to the EU. Your involvement is important to shape the EU for the future," said Commission President José Manuel Barroso, opening the debate,

He was responding to citizens concerned about overcoming the current economic crisis.

Barroso's assertion that "more action should be taken that makes banks accountable for their own actions" was greeted with a round of applause, although one viewer used Twitter to say, "They want to stop a crisis from happening again, but what about the problems we have now?"

Another asked, "If taxpayers should not be paying debts as the President said, then why are we? Words need actions to back them up."

President Barroso was joined at the debate by Commission Vice President Viviane Reding, Ireland's Taoiseach (prime minister) and other government ministers.

Many of those present were concerned about youth unemployment. Both Barroso and the Irish Taoiseach spoke out in favour of a European Commission proposal to guarantee an offer of employment, training or further education to all young people out of work.

Moving to citizens' rights, the debate turned to women's rights and the gender pay gap, the rights of small countries and data protection.

Reding vowed to fight to close the gender pay gap, and spoke passionately about the standing that EU membership gives small countries – such as her native Luxembourg. It gives them a strong voice, she said.

The 1.5 hours was simply not enough to get through everyone's questions, but both Ireland's EU Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton and Reding emphasised that the event was just the beginning of the debate. More meetings will take place around Ireland.

What are the dialogues about?

This dialogue is one of series the Commission is holding in cities in every EU country, giving 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."

The debates are part of the 2013 European Year of Citizens: an entire year dedicated to your rights as a European citizen.

In brief

  • ABOUT

    Economy, citizens’ rights

  • WHEN

    10 January

  • WHERE

    Dublin, Ireland, Dublin Castle