The EU has brought us peace and prosperity - its future lies in more and better cooperation.
- Commissioner Tibor Navracsics -
On 10 September, Košice hosted a Citizens' Dialogue with Commissioner Tibor Navracsics. He was joined on stage by Monika Smolková, Member of the European Parliament. The Commissioner, the MEP and citizens discussed the role of education and sport – beyond the economic aspects, the potential of universities, the values and benefits that the EU brings to its citizens and the challenges ahead.
The Dialogue took place at the start of the European Week of Sport 2016. Commissioner Navracsics highlighted the importance of sport in society: apart from the obvious economic benefits of a healthy workforce, he emphasised the societal value of participating in sporting activities. "Engaging regularly in sport creates a sense of belonging for the individual and helps to build a community, thus contributing to stability and cohesion", he stated.
With regard to community building, Commissioner Navracsics also referred to the Erasmus+ programme which empowers young people and acts as a strong driver of European integration. It helps to contribute to a new European identity, which does not replace local and national identities, but complements them.
MEP Smolková also commented the opportunities offered by the Erasmus+ programme and added that Europeans tend to feel more European when they benefit from being part of the EU. She added that "people tend to forget the benefits of the EU as soon as a challenge emerges."
During the discussion on the current challenges facing the EU, the questions of terrorism and radicalisation were addressed. In this respect, Commissioner Navracsics highlighted the role that education should play in promoting intercultural competences, active citizenship and democratic values. "We need to teach our children the values of democracy and the principles on which our societies are founded", he stressed.
On the topic of reforming higher education, the Commissioner stressed that universities are not just about knowledge: indeed, they have the potential to become the motor for regional development. "We're looking at how to support higher education reforms to help universities play a greater role in boosting regional economies", he added.
In reply to a question as to what he considers to be the biggest added value of the EU and what lies ahead for it, Commissioner Navracsics said that "the EU has brought us peace and prosperity - its future lies in more and better cooperation".
The Commissioner concluded by thanking participants for their active engagement in the event and added that "Citizens' Dialogues are a great way for me to connect directly with people across Europe and this helps me in my everyday work."
The event in Košice was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.