12 mln Europeans would have a chance to study elsewhere. We proposed to include adults and teachers. This was my goal to increase numbers.
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen
On Europe Day, 9 May 2019, approximately 350 participants took part in a vibrant Citizens’ Dialogue in Warsaw with Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and former President of Poland (1995-2005) Aleksander Kwaśniewski. The main topic was the 15th anniversary of Poland accession to the EU and the future of Europe.
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen mentioned President Kwasniewski's involvement in community affairs. He stressed that the European Union was not created to solve the problems of individual Member States. - The EU needs the involvement of individual countries to find solutions to common problems – he said.
-How would you explain people that they should go and vote in the European election? – the moderator asked. - What can MEPs do? A couple of concrete examples: climate policy, they create Europe-wide legislation on climate change. I have been working on circular economy, how to deal with plastic, how to recycle. You could try to do it in Poland, but it is better to have the European law. In his view, sometimes MEPs are more influential than national ministers. - That is why your contributions can change the entire Europe, he added.
Aleksander Kwaśniewski drew attention to new conditions and circumstances that will determine Europe’s future. - Artificial intelligence, climate change, economic crises, inequalities. No country can effectively respond to these challenges in Europe, he underlined.
Katainen and Kwaśniewski agreed that the EU is constantly under external pressure, mainly from China, Russia and to some extent the United States. In such circumstances, Europe has the chance to compete as long as Member States respond together.
They both agreed that an alternative to a common Europe is a disintegrated Europe, entangled in national egoisms.
Participants also wanted to know what could be done to ensure that the Erasmus+ programme is more accessible for people from medium-sized and smaller cities and villages. Alongside this, they wanted to know how to Europe could be better communicated and how to reach those people who have never crossed the Polish border?
On the Erasmus+ programme VP Katainen underlined that thanks to the European Commission, 12 million Europeans would have a chance to study elsewhere. -We proposed to include adults and teachers. It was my goal to increase numbers, he said.
On communication, he stated that the EU institutions should not do it alone, but also Member States should play an important role. The Commission has increased communication efforts, but on the national and local level, you have your obligations to explain the EU. We need a stronger national ownership, he concluded.