We need to share our destiny, or others outside Europe will shape it. Europe will only be able to determine its future, if we stick together.
- First Vice-President Timmermans-
Cross-border dialogue on the future of Europe
On 4 June, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, participated in a Citizens’ Dialogue in Ruse, together with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev and Romanian Minister of Justice Robert Cazanciuc.
In the Bulgarian city of Ruse on the Romanian border a very enthusiastic pan-European audience of over 750 people (consisting of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens as well as international students from the University of Ruse) took the opportunity to engage in a dialogue on the future of Europe.
The Dialogue was opened by the Bulgarian President Plevneliev, who emphasised that "the citizens identify the problems, and see how the institutions function or do not function, so we need to listen to them". The ensuing debate was wide-ranging, touching upon topics from Cooperation and Verification Mechanism through transparency, road safety and the Ukrainian crisis to LGBTI rights. However the main general concern of the majority of participants seemed to be the rule of law. Responding to questions regarding the adherence of some Member States to the rule of law, the First Vice-President underlined that "the balance between democracy, the rule of law and human rights define Europe. All three are essential and equally important."
A vote among participants revealed that over 92% of participants believed that there should be more solidarity among Member States of the EU. The First Vice-President cautioned that "we need solidarity with people whose global outlook is fundamentally different. The biggest threat for Europe is polarisation, and that we only stick with like-minded people. We need to make sure there is a chance in the EU for everyone". The Romanian Minister of Justice considered in his concluding remarks the Dialogue successful and stressed that "We need to do it more. It is important to do things for our citizens, and not just as part of our international obligations." This opinion resonated very much with the views of the audience whose 93% agreed in a final voting question that politicians should more often dialogue with citizens.
The event in Ruse was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.