The free “European Citizen Travel Card” would have “a positive effect on Austrian tourism, unites citizens and at the same time allows discounted prices for Europeans, such as public transport and museums”, according to Franz Schausberger, CoR-representative of Salzburg, who represented the amendment introduced.
Topics such as refugee problems, the integration of migrants, and measures against populism as well as extremism in Europe were discussed. In addition, it was debated how to foster the cohesion of the 28 EU Member States and the European Union to bring people closer to the local level.
In the discussion on “Reflecting on Europe” Markku Markkula, President of the CoR, underlined the importance of stressing the role of the local and regional levels during citizens’ debates. Furthermore he told members that the local and regional levels are acknowledged more frequently to be the governance levels which can be operated more closely to citizens. Concerning the Rome Declaration that was signed by 27 Member States and all the EU’s key institutions, he underlined the importance of mentioning subsidiarity and acknowledging the need to work together on levels where it makes sense. Finally he stressed the need for the CoR to influence the renewal process of the EU in a pro-active way and to get in contact with all the political leaders through the CoR members. He concluded by reminding members that the future of the EU should be for and with the citizens.
Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions, stressed that the debates are very important to see in which direction the EU should go and to decide on what the EU should look like in the future. He emphasised the importance of having diverse ideas but at the same time reminded members that it is also important to know how to realize them as it would be counterproductive to have a big report on the future of the EU but no ability to implement it. He also pointed out that there should not just be a discussion about competencies but also about their impact on citizens, about solidarity and financial resources. He concluded by underlining the need of going all together in the same direction.
Arnoldas Abramavicius (Deputy Mayor of Zarasai/Lithuania, IRE-member) told members that as there are 795 municipalities in Armenia, most of these municipalities are very weak, have few financial resources and a very small range of services they can offer. He also reminded members that since 1987, Armenia is in state of war with its neighbouring country Azerbaijan. The local elections in Yerevan were held one month after the national elections, which is a reason that there were only three political parties participating in the elections. As a political comment he stressed that only 40 percent of voters participated in the Yerevan elections: an alarming sign which shows the high level of political apathy and mistrust in the political system, even on the local level.
Source: liaison office of the region of Salzburg to the EU in Brussels and CoR