When our house has problems we do not demolish it, we restore it. Europe is our common home. We need a new beginning to make our European project more effective and bring it closer to European citizens
Commissioner Christos Stylianides
European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, visited Bilbao, where he held a Citizens’ Dialogue at the University of Deusto. The topic of the debate was “solidarity in a Europe that protects and saves lives”.
The Dialogue touched upon several topics related to humanitarian aid: humanitarian crises and the EU response, education in emergencies, the increase of funds for humanitarian aid and refugees.
Discussions also turned to issues of civil protection, such as climate change and the catastrophes it provokes, as well as the upcoming European elections.
On the subject of humanitarian crisis, one researcher at the University referred to the situation in Spain: “We have a humanitarian and refugee crisis here at home and, while working in other places is positive, we should also look at the situation here”. She pointed out that Spain has 54,000 requests for asylum seekers but has at the same time one of the lowest levels of acceptance of requests in the EU. “What can the European Commission do to support and pressure national governments for the system to be de-clogged?,” she asked.
Commissioner Stylianides was also asked about what the EU could do to help those ships like the one in the port of Bilbao that are ready to go out in the Mediterranean to save lives but are currently blocked without the necessary permits.
Participants were then asked via Sli.do to describe in one word what the upcoming European elections meant to them. The most cited word was “change”, followed by “opportunity” and “future”.
Reacting to this, Commissioner Stylianides said: ¨We are at a critical time. Yes, we have problems, and we need changes in order to bring the European project closer to the people. When our house has problems we do not demolish it, we restore it. Europe is our common home. We need a new beginning to make our European project more effective.”
He also pointed out to participants that “if you are not voting you are ignoring your right to have your say about your future and you will give it to another person.”