On 9 May 2019, Dana Spinant, representing the European Commission, participated, together with Miguel Albuquerque, President of the Regional Government of Madeira, in a Citizens’ Dialogue in Funchal (Madeira) to celebrate Europe’s Day. The lively discussion with a room full of young people touched upon a wide range of issues, including education, training, mobility, ERASMUS+, European Solidarity Corps, fisheries fleet and
The video was webstreamed through the Facebook page of the Commission Representation in Lisbon.
The debate gathered around 150 people, mainly students from schools across the island, providing young people with an opportunity for a debate with the European Commission and the regional government. The main purpose of the dialogue was to identify opportunities for young people to benefit from EU opportunities while highlighting what the European Union is doing for Madeira, in particular through the EU strategy for the outermost regions.
Director Dana Spinant emphasised that the EU is investing significant resources to provide opportunities for young people to study in another EU country through the Erasmus+ programme. The EU is also improving young people’s chances to get a job through a range of initiatives under the European Social Fund.
President Miguel Albuquerque focused on the benefits of the European Union by stressing that the EU project is a political rather than an economic one. “It is not only centred on peace but also on cooperation and solidarity between peoples”, he said.
He further agreed that programmes such as Erasmus+ are a good example of how to fight extremist and xenophobic forces that want to destroy the European project.
Additionally, Dana Spinant stressed the importance of the EU strategy for Madeira and focused on the Commission’s efforts to make sure all Outermost Regions enjoy the same opportunities as other regions by “acknowledging under EU law that these islands have specific characteristics”.
President Albuquerque, in turn, called for more support to reduce the high cost of transporting containers from Funchal to the mainland. The President further stressed the need for Madeira to use EU funds to renew its fleet; and emphasised the importance of special taxation measures allowing Madeira to generate revenues.
Reacting to a moderator’s question about the EU elections, Dana Spinant encouraged people to vote as a means to have a say in EU level decisions that impact on their daily lives. “The EU takes decisions that have a direct influence on your life: broadband connection, roaming charges, roads, energy transition, food safety, budget…”
Regarding the Sli.do questions “What is the most important thing that the EU should do for young people?” and “What do you think should be the EU’s top priority in supporting Madeira and Porto Santo?” the participants voted for EDUCATION and EMPLOYMENT in the first one and MOBILITY and EMPLOYMENT in the second question.