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ACP | Plácido Domingo and Commissioner Vassiliou set for Citizens' Debate on culture and future of Europe

European Commission : Press release | Brussels, 2 December 2013

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Plácido Domingo and Commissioner Vassiliou set for Citizens' Debate on culture and future of Europe

After several sessions already this year, the debate on the future of Europe is coming back to Belgium on 5 December. Plácido Domingo, the world-famous tenor and President of Europa Nostra, the European federation of heritage NGOs will join Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Isabelle Durant, Vice-President of the European Parliament, for a Citizens' Dialogue with more than 700 people at BOZAR, Brussels. The debate will focus on the ways out of the crisis and the future of Europe, with an emphasis on the role of culture as a catalyst for European integration.

"The Citizens' Dialogue is an excellent way for European decision-makers to hear the views of the public first hand. I am keen for as many people as possible to take part in our event at the BOZAR: from school pupils and students, to mums and dads, to people working in the cultural and creative sectors, office and shop workers, business people, civil society and older people. Everyone is welcome. This is your chance to make your voice heard," said Commissioner Vassiliou ahead of the event.

Plácido Domingo added: "Europa Nostra and I personally are delighted to add our voice to the debate on the future of Our Europe. Our culture and our heritage define who we are. Culture - in all its forms of expression - is also a key resource for our future. Europe should therefore do more to deploy the full potential of this formidable resource. EU institutions, Member States and citizens should take more pride in the rich cultural heritage we have inherited from past generations and which serve as an inspiration and source of creativity for today and tomorrow."

The Citizens' Dialogue in Brussels is organised by the Representation of the European Commission in Belgium and the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, in partnership with BOZAR and Europa Nostra.

Other speakers at the event will include Paul Dujardin, Director of the BOZAR, and Michelangelo Pistoletto, the renowned Italian visual artist, who are both members of the European Commission's 'New Narrative for Europe' project, which aims to encourage artists, intellectuals and scientists to discuss Europe's future. The audience will also include representatives of the artistic and cultural scene in Belgium and members of the European Parliament.

The debate takes place from 19:30 to 20:45 in the BOZAR's Henry Le Boeuf Hall (23 Rue Ravenstein, Brussels). Doors open at 18:30. Television presenter Marlène de Wouters and ARTE journalist Vladimir Vasak will moderate the discussion.

The event is free to attend, but registration is compulsory via this site. The debate can also be followed live via web stream. Citizens from all over Europe can also participate via Twitter by using the hashtag #EUDeb8.

The debate will be followed by a free concert, ‘European Inspirations’, from 21.00 to 22.00, featuring Belgian baritone Ivan Thirion, Georgian bass Kakhader Shavidze, Greek mezzo-soprano Alexandra Gravas and Portuguese fado singer Katia Guerreiro. The concert marks the 50th anniversary of Europa Nostra and celebrates the role of culture in the European project.


What are the Citizens' Dialogues about?

In January, the European Commission kicked off the European Year of Citizens (IP/13/2), a year dedicated to the public and their rights. Throughout the year, Commissioners have been holding debates with citizens all over the EU about their views on Europe and their expectations for the future.

A lot has been achieved in the twenty years since the introduction of EU Citizenship: the results of a survey carried out by the Commission last year shows that 71% of Belgians feel "European" (EU average 63%). Across the EU, citizens are using their rights on a daily basis, but not everyone is aware of these rights. For example, six in ten Belgians (61%) say that they would like to know more about their rights as EU citizens.

This is why the Commission dedicated 2013 to citizens and their rights. The Citizens' Dialogues are at the heart of the European Year of Citizens.

Why is the Commission doing this now?

Because Europe is at a crossroads. The coming months and years will be decisive for the future course of the European Union, with many talking about the need for more political union or a United States of Europe. But European integration must go hand in hand with strengthening the Union's democratic legitimacy: this is why the Commission is urging all citizens to make their voices heard in the forthcoming European elections.

What will be the outcome of the Dialogues?

One of the main objectives of the Dialogues is to prepare the ground for the 2014 European Parliament elections. The feedback from the Citizens' Dialogues will help guide the Commission as it draws up plans for a future reform of the EU.

On 8 May 2013 the European Commission published its second EU Citizenship Report, which puts forward 12 new concrete measures to solve problems citizens still have (IP/13/410 and MEMO/13/409). The Citizens' Report is the Commission's answer to a major online consultation held from May 2012 (IP/12/461) and the questions raised and suggestions made in Citizens' Dialogues on EU citizens' rights and their future.

For more information

Debate on the Future of Europe homepage

European Year of Citizens

Europeans have their say: Results of the consultation on EU citizens’ rights

Androulla Vassiliou's website