Europe is based on discussion, negotiations and understanding each other.
Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska
On 25 January 2018, in a special event to mark the 25th anniversary of the single market, Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska participated in a Citizens' Dialogue in Maastricht. The interactive and digital discussion touched upon various aspects of the internal market. These various aspects included mobility, the impact of Brexit, SMEs, and the fallout of globalization.
This intimate Dialogue was attended by thirty participants - students from Maastricht University. The students came from a wide range of locations including Spain, Latin America and Guernsey, Channel Islands.
The first topic of discussion was how Brexit has highlighted that we should not take for granted what has been achieved by the European Union, especially regarding the results of the single market such as free travel, and no roaming charges. Regarding not taking the internal market for granted, the Commissioner mentioned how the polish population are extremely positive towards the EU.
On a personal note she added that she does believe in no walls in or outside the EU, having lived to see the consequences of war and walls, nobody should take for granted the peace and prosperity the EU has brought to its citizens.
On equality and the fallout of globalization, a University Professor asked about how lower educated citizens may be regionally mobile but how can feel the benefits of the internal market. Another participant also expressed concern about wages for factory workers and the fixed worker's initiative. He wondered about the future for smaller businesses and factories if they cannot recruit labour workers.
It was then discussed how the Social Pillar is highly important to the internal market and the future of Europe, yet we must strike a balance between remaining competitive and maintaining our social and labour systems. It was expressed that the hope to ensure equal pay across all Member States is strong but will take time to be put in action.
Following this were some enlightening e-votes from participants on the challenges of the single market and benefits of 25 years of the internal market. The Commissioner then explained her priority to enable SMEs to expand to other countries and to help eliminate the current obstacles through deepening the internal market.
The dialogue closed with an exchange of advice between the Commissioner and the participants.
The event in Maastricht was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.