The existential crisis of the EU is over. Now people expect more cooperation and that we look forward
Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen together with Commissioner Corina Creţu discussed with Finnish and some Swedish citizens and people from NGOs about the Future of Europe. Both Commissioners underlined that "Europe is not Brussels. It is you and the other 500 million citizens who need now to discuss what expect for their future and then assume ownership of a re-born Union."
The 11th Citizens' Dialogue in Finland since January 2015 saw a broad variety of themes that concern people in the Nordic Member States. The first part of the discussion focused on the White Paper that was presented by the Commission in March 2017 and the following Reflection Papers which will be further complemented on June 7 with the Paper on security and defense. Vice-President Katainen shared his impression that in the many Dialogues which he has across the EU Europeans expect now more cooperation in the area of security, with regard to stimulating growth and also to harnessing globalization. Commissioner Creţu emphasized that for her "staying together" was the most important aspect.
A young woman called for more visionary leadership from the Commission and advocated a further scenario which would describe ideas for sustainable development. This triggered a longer exchange among the Commissioners and the room about enriching the ideas of the White Paper with concrete substance through Citizens' Dialogues and other forms of engagement and debate. Some of the participants wondered about the future of EU-US relations.
There was a feeling among citizens that the trans-Atlantic cooperation remains important for Finland in spite of disagreements on trade or climate policy with the US government. The discussion on the future of cohesion within the Union was much broader than about the future of the great EU funds and touched also upon social rights, the rights of children and education. Commissioner Creţu acknowledged that social rights were directly interdependent with the scenarios for the Future of Europe.
Vice-President Katainen repeated his call on strengthening and improving the quality of education. He used the Dialogue to suggest the idea of sending 1,000 Finnish teachers for some time into another Member State, possibly using the Erasmus program.