European Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica discussed the future of connectivity in Europe with international students at Strasbourg railway station. This Citizens’ Dialogue was organized in the frame of the Conference on the Future of Europe and in the context of arrival of the Connecting Europe Express train to Strasbourg.
Vice-President started the event by underling the role of youths in the Conference on the Future of Europe. The aim of the current Commission is to give a greater say to the young generation in the decision-making procedures. The Conference is an innovative project, which provide an open and inclusive debate for everybody.
Participants of the dialogue were invited by the Representation of the European Commission in France in cooperation with the Europe Direct in Strasbourg. Twenty students posed their questions related to the future of Europe, transport issues, competences of the regional, national and European bodies respectively, including some personal questions related to her professional journey.
They expressed concerns regarding the sustainable development for the future generations in Europe; they were also interested in details of the European Green Deal. Vice-President Šuica was delighted with the number of questions and enthusiasm of the young participants. Some of them will continue discussing European topics during the European Youth Event hosted by the European Parliament in the following days.
Vice-President explained the importance of the connectivity and mobility nowadays. She commented some current projects and actions adopted by the Commission like Fit for 55 initiative.
She emphasized that apart from the green and digital transformation, we are facing demographic changes all over the Europe, which has considerable impact to rural and remote areas. She confirmed the commitment of the current Commission to provide green and affordable connections to all citizens, wherever they live.
While talking about rural areas she said: Young people are often leaving rural areas for universities. Those who are staying are facing many challenges: there are no buses, no schools, nor medical service, so people often feel to be left behind. They start blaming democracy, but democracy should not be blamed for that.
A substantial part of the Dialogue was dedicated to the Conference on the Future of Europe and the multilingual digital platform. Vice-President asked them to contribute, to comment and share ideas, to organize events, because as she explained the COFE platform is the hub for the whole Conference.
The Vice-President was accompanied by Community of European Railway (CER) Executive Director Alberto Mazzola, who talked about the importance of railway in different economic areas including commerce, tourism or citizens’ daily life. He also emphasized the role of the trains in the youth initiatives like DiscoverEU, Erasmus by train etc.
What is also important is to improve transport connections: by rail, by road, and water, it could make rural areas more accessible, underlined Vice-President.
The venue, the Strasbourg railway station, was more a symbolic place to discuss these questions. Trains are possible solution to the ambitious European gas emission goals, but the interoperability of the transport is the key according to the Vice-President.