Author Archives: heartsandmindsforeu

Ahmed Aboutaleb: Europe is about being part of something bigger!

Nationality: Moroccan and Dutch, migrated to the Netherlands at the age of 15
Occupation: Mayor of Rotterdam and member of the EU’s Committee of the Regions
Hobbies: Spending time with my family, riding my bicycle, travelling, and reading

Lees het in het Nederlands
Deutsche Zusammenfassung
Sommaire en français

As mayor of Rotterdam and a member of the EU’s Committee of the Regions, what do you think is Europe’s most important task?
To answer this question, you have to look back at why people, in the beginning, longed for some kind of unity. They did so because they were tired of war. The two World Wars started in Europe. There were casualties in nearly every family and people wanted peace and reconciliation. This led to what I see as the most important project of collaboration in Europe. To the benefit of many peoples, we wanted to pool our knowledge and power to create a better life, more wealth and more solidarity amongst the citizens of Europe. This is, to me, the European Union’s most important task. It’s the result of steady cooperation amongst different countries in the interest of all of us.

You migrated from Morocco to the Netherlands and you even remember the exact timing of the trip. Why is that?
Migrating from one country to another at such a significant age – at 15 – is a day a man should never forget. I was born in Morocco and migrated to the Netherlands in 1976 – on Sunday, 16 October at 9.30 am. Obviously, it’s a giant step in one’s life.

Having the euro or not makes the distinction between an isolated country and a country that gives up a part of its identity – its own monetary system – by joining a bigger system to secure its political and economic influence in a globalised world.

When you look back to the seventies, how has European integration changed the Netherlands?
The major difference between the Netherlands of the 70s – when I arrived, in the years after the oil crisis – and the Netherlands of today is, of course, the euro. For me, it is the biggest symbol of the European Union. Having the euro or not makes the distinction between an isolated country, with its own coins and bills, and a country that gives up a part of its identity – its own monetary system – by joining a bigger system to secure its political and economic influence in a globalised world. To me, this is a fascinating phenomenon to observe.
Ahmed Aboutaleb - courtesy of the City of Rotterdam. Photo by Marc Nolte

Ahmed Aboutaleb – courtesy of the City of Rotterdam. Photo by Marc Nolte

What’s it like being the first Muslim mayor of a large European city?
Indeed, I am the first one in the Netherlands of Moroccan decent to become mayor of the second largest city of this country. I think the Netherlands can be very proud of this. One must not forget that, during the last decades, the Netherlands started to get this image of a country moving towards racism and xenophobia. There is still a heavy debate about immigration and the role of the Islam in our country. I am one of the public examples in the Netherlands that this debate can be democratic and open. For a modern country and for Europe, this is essential.

Rotterdam is the city of Pim Fortuyn, a politician who was not very fond of the multiculturalism he saw around him?
That it was Rotterdam’s city council, in the city of Pim Fortuyn, where 12 years ago some kind of revolution occurred, accepting me as mayor – this says a lot about the Netherlands and Europe. I do not like to use the word tolerance as much, because it says something about neglecting the other. What it is all about is acceptance that we all are different. I am well aware of the fact that being the first one is not without obligations. But I think that one should be proud of the citizens of Rotterdam to have accepted this step. Let the world know – yes indeed, we have a tough debate on integration and we are working on it, and this man, our mayor, has been accepted by us. This should give us all hope in Europe that we can succeed in having a common prosperous future without war and aggression if we work hand in hand.

Acceptance, Mobility, Respect. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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Ahmed Aboutaleb: Europa gaat erover deel uit te maken van iets groters!

Nationaliteit: Nederlands en Marrokaans, naar Nederland geëmigreerd op 15 jarige leeftijd
Beroep: Burgemeester van Rotterdam
Europese activiteiten: Lid van het Comité van de Regio’s
Hobby’s: Samen zijn met de familie, fietsen, reizen en lezen.

Wat denkt u als burgemeester van Rotterdam en lid van het Comité van de Regio’s dat de belangrijkste taak voor Europa is?
Om deze vraag te beantwoorden, moet je terugkijken waarom mensen, bij de start, verlangden naar een soort van eenheid. Dat deden zij omdat ze genoeg hadden van oorlogen. De twee wereldoorlogen startten beiden in Europa. Er vielen slachtoffers te betreuren in bijna elke familie en mensen wilden vrede en verzoening. Dit leidde tot wat ik zie als het belangrijkste project van samenwerking in Europa. Ten gunste van vele mensen, wilden we onze kennis en onze krachten samenbrengen om betere leefomstandigheden, meer welvaart en een grotere solidariteit onder de burgers van Europa te realiseren. Dit is voor mij de meest belangrijke taak van de Europese Unie. Het is het resultaat van een stabiele samenwerking tussen verschillende landen in het belang van ons allen.

U herinnert zich nog exact de timing van uw emigratie vanuit Marokko naar Nederland. Hoe komt dat?
Het migreren van één land naar een ander op z’n belangrijke leeftijd als 15 jaar is een dag die je niet mag vergeten. Ik ben in Marokko geboren en kwam in Nederland in 1976, op zondag 16 oktober om half tien in de ochtend. Logisch dat je dit onthoud, het is een gigantische stap in iemands leven.

Het wel of niet hebben van de Euro maakt het verschil tussen een geïsoleerd land met een eigen munt
en een land dat haar identiteiten deels opgeeft om in een globaal systeem haar politieke en economische invloed te garanderen.

Wanneer u terugkijkt naar de jaren 70, hoe heeft de Europese integratie Nederland veranderd?
Het belangrijkste verschil met het Nederland van de jaren 70 – toen ik in Nederland kwam, in de jaren na de oliecrisis – en het Nederland van vandaag is natuurlijk de Euro. Voor mij is dit het grootste symbool van de Europese Unie. Het hebben van de Euro of niet maakt het verschil tussen een geïsoleerd land met eigen munten en bankbiljetten, en een land dat een deel van de eigen identiteit opgeeft – dat van het eigen monetaire systeem – door toe te treden tot een groter systeem teneinde zijn politieke en economische invloed in een globaliserende wereld te verzekeren. Dit is voor mij een fascinerend fenomeen.
26 February 2014. Public debate organized in Rotterdam City Hall by the European Commission representation in The Netherlands on  international trade Amont the panelists: the CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority Mr Allard Castelein and MEP Marietje Schaake. Photo: Erno Wientjes

26 February 2014. Public debate organized in Rotterdam City Hall by the European Commission representation in The Netherlands on international trade Amont the panelists: the CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority Mr Allard Castelein and MEP Marietje Schaake. Photo: Erno Wientjes

Hoe is het om de eerste moslim burgemeester van een grote Europese stad te zijn?
Ik ben inderdaad de eerste van Marokkaanse afkomst die in Nederland de burgemeester is geworden van de tweede stad van het land. Ik denk dat Nederland daar erg trots op kan zijn. We moeten niet vergeten dat Nederland een imago heeft gekregen van een land dat richting racisme en xenofobie beweegt. Er is nog steeds een stevig debat gaande over immigratie en de rol van de Islam in ons land. Ik ben een van de voorbeelden in het openbaar bestuur dat in Nederland dat debat democratisch en open gevoerd wordt. Voor een modern land en voor Europa is dit essentieel.

Rotterdam is de stad van Pim Fortuyn, een politicus die niet veel op had met het multiculturalisme dat hij om zich heen zag.
Het was de gemeenteraad van Rotterdam, in de stad van Pim Fortuyn, waar 12 jaar geleden een soort van revolutie plaatsvond, die mij naar voren schoof als burgemeester. Dat zegt veel over Nederland en Europa. I hou niet zozeer van het woord tolerantie, omdat dat iets zegt over het negeren van de ander. Waar het allemaal om draait is accepteren dat we allemaal verschillen. Ik besef me terdege dat het zijn van de eerste, niet zonder verplichtingen komt. Maar ik denk dat we trots moeten zijn op de burgers van Rotterdam die deze stap hebben geaccepteerd. Laat het de wereld weten, ja we hebben inderdaad een stevig debat over integratie en we werken er aan, en deze man, onze burgemeester wordt door ons geaccepteerd. Dat moet hoop geven voor Europa dat als we de handen ineenslaan we een gezamenlijke toekomst met hoge welvaart en zonder oorlog en agressie kunnen realiseren.

Acceptatie, Mobiliteit, Respect. Europa is onze toekomst, het is aan ons!

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Ahmed Aboutaleb: Europa bedeutet zu etwas Größerem zu gehören

“Immigration und die Rolle des Islam sind nach wie vor schwierige Themen in meinem Land. In den Niederlanden bin ich das gelebte Beispiel, dass diese Debatte offen und demokratisch sein kann. Das ist für ein modernes Land und für Europa wichtig.”

Ahmed Aboutaleb besitzt eine doppelte Staatsbürgerschaft: Der gebürtige Marokkaner lebt seit seinem 15. Lebensjahr in den Niederlanden. Als Bürgermeister von Rotterdam vertritt er die Interessen seiner Stadt auf europäischer Ebene im Ausschuss der Regionen in Brüssel. Dass er der erste Bürgermeister marokkanischer Herkunft in der zweitgrößten Stadt der Niederlanden ist, zeugt von einer wachsenden Toleranz und einer offenen Gesellschaft in seiner Heimat.
Der Wunsch der Menschen nach Frieden stellt für Ahmed die Basis für die europïsche Einigung dar. Das gemeinsame Ziel der Europäischen Union ist, ein besseres Leben und Wohlstand zu schaffen und Solidarität zu fördern. Der Euro, die gemeinsame Währung ist für ihn das wichtigste Symbol der EU, sie schafft politische und wirtschaftliche Sicherheit in einer globalisierten Welt. Er ist das sichtbare Zeichen der Gemeinschaft der Völker in der EU.
Seine Freizeit verbringt Ahmed Aboutaleb mit seiner Familie, liebt wie viele seiner Landsleute das Fahrradfahren, Reisen und Lesen.

Akzeptanz, freier Personenverkehr, Respekt: Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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Ahmed Aboutaleb: L’Europe, c’est faire partie d’un tout!

“L’immigration et la place de l’Islam sont toujours en débat dans mon pays. Je suis l’une des figures publiques aux Pays Bas qui prouvent que ce débat peut être ouvert et démocratique. Pour un pays moderne et pour l’Europe, c’est essentiel.”

Ahmed est arrivé aux Pays Bas à l’âge de quinze ans, laissant derrière lui son Maroc natal. Il a été élu à la tête de la deuxième ville du pays, Rotterdam, et fait son parcours un exemple pour l’Europe quand il dit qu’il faut savoir accepter les différences des uns et des autres.
La paix, la prospérité et la solidarité sont, pour lui, les éléments qui définissent le projet européen. Ce sont les fruits d’une coopération continue entre des pays différents. Et lorsqu’il évoque ses origines, Ahmed souligne que l’immigration est peut être en débat dans son pays d’adoption, mais que ce débat est ouvert et démocratique. C’est aussi là un exemple à suivre pour l’Union européenne.

Acceptation, Mobilité, Respect. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous !


 

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Martins Zemitis: Europe will not be undone!

Age: 35
Nationality: Latvian
Family info: Married, 2 kids: Martins Jr. – 4.5, Esther – 3
Occupation: (since 1 January 2014) European Commission, Riga, Latvia; before: Administrator, European Parliament, Brussels
Hobbies: Fitness, squash, alpine skiing, theatre, travel, debating and reading biographies of noted statesmen.
Languages: Latvian, English, Russian, French
Favorite dish: Steak with “frites”
Personal motto: If you do something, why not do it to the highest quality?

Another voice from Latvia: Martins’ sparring partner
Read it in Latvian
Deutsche Zusammenfassung
Sommaire en français

martins zemitis 6You were born in Latvia, you studied in the United States but in the end, you picked Brussels – the very centre of the EU – to settle. Why is that?
Coming from newly independent Latvia, which was a closed society under the Soviet Union but aspired to become a member of the European Union, I did my undergraduate studies in America. Through studying world and European history, literature and economics, I became acutely aware of the diversity of cultures, which permeates the European project. The unique way Europe was able to turn historical differences into positive values through common institutions, markets and mobility was an astonishing story.

You wanted to be part of this European project?
Indeed and it is amazing; this ‘machine’ of 28 countries (and counting) and 24 languages shouldn’t really work, but it does. And this is why I work for Europe – out of admiration for the project, but mainly for the opportunity to make this project better, in some small personal way.

The greatest success in the history of the EU is that Europe is at peace and still remains a magnet for other countries which aspire to the same high standards of democracy, human rights and rule of law.

What is a typical day in the office like?
Let me give you a concrete example of what I do, and what I am also very proud of. Some time ago the European Parliament voted on the budget framework for the next seven years. As a member of the Budget Secretariat team, I was involved on a daily basis in preparing the EP positions, votes, amendments, strategies and positions and advising the MEPs involved. My particular area of responsibility was related to citizens and security. As a part of our work, the Parliament emphasised that to tap into the potential of European artists, designers, students, actors and other creative minds we should give more money to “creative industries”, even if the total amount of the budget is significantly reduced. In the end, the Parliament succeeded in improving the Commission’s proposal and convinced them that a 10% increase in Creative Europe programme was warranted. This was a great day for me.

And were you able to share this success with friends and family?
I posted this news immediately following the vote in Strasbourg on my Facebook wall, and budding actor friends who are studying drama in London started immediately putting “likes” and “sharing” this entry. They wrote personal messages of appreciation. I could feel how my work with charts, graphs and legal arguments had finally resulted in something concrete, directly felt and appreciated by a group of my artist friends. That is quite rewarding!

Some people believe the EU bureaucratic machinery is too big.
A lot of people think that European bureaucracy is huge and the European budget is wildly out of proportion with the savings and cuts that the national budgets have experienced. But in reality, the total number of bureaucrats working in the whole European system is comparable to that of public administration of the city of Edinburgh, and the management of the European Parliament costs each European tax payer €3 per year – a cost of a nice cup of coffee in Paris. Can anyone really say that this is too big?martins zemitis 7

But is there room for improvement regarding the EU’s organisation?
For sure, the EU can still do more to further modernise European public service. There is still a lot of undue bureaucracy and sub-optimal process management in place, partly due to the rapid expansion from the original six member states in the 1950s to 28 member states now. The institutional structures, while always in a state of transition, have not kept pace with the cutting-edge discoveries in efficiency, ergonomics and process optimisation. Lengthy deliberations and long transposition times sometimes mean that the fruits of one’s labour are not easily visible or tangible in the short term. One must learn to be patient and base one’s motivation on more abstract ideals rather than concrete impacts.

How do you see Europe’s future? What are the long term projects the EU stands for?
The greatest success in the history of the EU is that Europe is at peace and still remains a magnet for other countries which aspire to the same high standards of democracy, human rights and rule of law. The way Europe has been able to stick together and exhibit solidarity with countries in financial crisis in the north and south alike further reinforces the understanding that splits and cleavages are no longer possible. This is a project from which there is no return. Europe will not be undone. Yes, it will debate the right way to continue. Yes, it will take two steps forwards and one step back. And yes, it will stop to reflect every once in a while on the best way to develop. But that is ok.

Is there a particular moment in Brussels you remember?
When the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize, I was on my way to lunch with some colleagues in the Jacques Delors Building (the home of the two EU consultative committees, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee). The ceremony was being broadcast live on a big screen in the lobby. I missed lunch that day, but being a part of a project whose accomplishments include winning the world’s most prestigious peace prize has been a source of inspiration to me, not only on that day but for many days since. But I guess that day in particular I was really proud to be a part of it.

martins zemitis 4Do you see yourself as a citizen of Europe, Latvia or Brussels?
I think it is a mixture of all three. For example, at home we like to cook Belgian recipes but with Latvian ingredients. For instance, the very basic pommes frites – double cooked oil-fried potatoes – you can’t get a more Belgian dish than this, but we bring the potatoes from ‘home’ in Latvia, because we find that they just don’t taste the same here – and tastes tend to linger with us strongly as memories from childhood… But at the same time, when I talk about Cultural Capitals of Europe, I feel like a citizen of Riga because my home town will be the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2014. When I talk about the “singing revolution” I feel Latvian, because this is what the transition to democracy in Latvia was called. And finally, when I talk about history I feel European, because history has so often divided Europe and Europeans but it is also our challenge to build a common history now and to develop a more common understanding of our past history.

Diversity, Solidarity, Peace. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us.

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Ina Strazdina: It is time to turn the tide!

Age: 37
Nationality: Latvian
Occupation: Journalist
Hobbies: arts and literature
Link with Martins Zemitis: Many years of professional links

Ina, Martins' sparring partner

Ina, Martins’ sparring partner

As a Latvian journalist you must have a good sense of how people in your home country feel about the EU?
Latvia is a Member State of the EU which means that it follows EU legislation and values. Freedom in Europe was a long-time dream for my country and it also inspired its desire for freedom. As an EU correspondent for the Latvian media, covering a lot of Latvian-EU issues I feel that we still have a lot to do to regain the level and status Latvia enjoyed before the Soviet occupation.

Are people in Latvia worried about what is being decided in Brussels?
Joining the eurozone [it happened on 1 January 2014 for Latvia] is something that people are concerned about. We have changed currency before, but there is a lot of uncertainty currently associated with the eurozone. The euro crisis is not really helping either. Moreover, Latvians are also afraid to lose their beloved lats as it is more than just our currency, it is also regarded as one of the strongest symbols of Latvia as an independent state.Ina Strazdina1

How do you know Martins Zemitis?
I have known Martins Zemitis for a long time. We met in Brussels more than 10 years ago. He has worked in Brussels for many years, with a couple of years break in Riga. He was very successful in the European Parliament’s Budget Committee and has helped me to understand and to explain complicated topics related to the EU budget issues. Martins is a good example of an EU civil servant; they are not faceless bureaucrats but highly committed and intelligent servants working on behalf of European citizens.

What do you think should happen to strengthen peoples’ confidence in the European Union?
Europe has to get out of the crisis. I really hope that Europe gets back to normalcy in the foreseeable future. I’ve had enough reading and writing about the crisis and about job losses. It is time to turn the tide.

Freedom and Prosperity. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us.

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Age: 37
Vecums: 37
Tautība: Latviete
Nodarbošanās: Žurnāliste
Vaļasprieki: Māksla un literatūra
Saistība ar Mārtiņu Zemīti: Daudzgadīgas profesionālas attiecības

Ina Strazdiņa: Ir laiks pārvarēt krīzi!

Kā Latvijas žurnālistei Jums visdrīzāk ir labs priekšstats par to, ko cilvēki Latvijā izjūt pret Eiropas Savienību…
Latvija ir Eiropas Savienības dalībvalsts, kas nozīmē, ka tā seko Eiropas likumiem un vērtībām. Brīvība kā viena no Eiropas pamatvērtībām iedvesmoja arī manas valsts tiekšanos uz brīvību, bet kā Latvijas mediju Eiropas korespondente, kurai ikdienā jāveido ziņas par daudziem ES lēmumiem un to ietekmi uz Latviju, es jūtu, ka mums vēl daudz jāpaveic, lai sasniegtu to līmeni un statusu, ko Latvija baudīja pirms padomju okupācijas.

Vai cilvēki Latvijā ir norūpējušies par to, kas tiek izlemts Briselē?
Šobrīd Latvijā cilvēki ir satraukušies par Latvijas pievienošanos eirozonai [tā notika 2014.gada 1.janvārī]. Latvijā nauda ir mainījusies daudzreiz, bet šobrīd ar eirozonu saistās daudz nedrošības. Eirozonas krīze, kura jopojām dominē ziņu virsrakstos, saprotams, nepalīdz. Latvieši baidās arī pazaudēt savu iemīļoto latiņu, kas ir bijis kaut kas vairāk nekā tikai naudas vienība. Lats bijis viens no spēcīgākajiem Latvijas neatkarības simboliem.

Kā Jūs pazīstat Mārtiņu Zemīti?
Es Mārtiņu pazīstu ilgus gadus – mēs pirmoreiz satikāmies Briselē pirms vairāk nekā 10 gadiem. Viņš savu karjeru attīstījis Briselē, ar dažu gadu pauzi Latvijā. Viņa pēdējais amats Briselē bija Eiropas Parlamenta Budžeta komitejas administrators, un viņš man ir daudz palīdzējis, izzinot sarežģītos Eiropas Savienības budžeta līkločus. Mārtiņš ir labs Eiropas ierēdņa piemērs – ierēdņi nav tikai neredzami birokrāti, bet ļoti inteliģenti un atbildīgi darbinieki, kuri strādā Eiropas pilsoņu labā.

Kam, Jūsuprāt, būtu jānotiek, lai stiprinātu cilvēku uzticību Eiropas Savienībai?
Eiropai ir jātiek ārā no krīzes. Es patiešām ceru, ka Eiropa atgriezīsies pie normālas lietu kārtības pārskatāmā nākotnē. Man jau ir apnicis lasīt un rakstīt par krīzi un bezdarbu. Ir laiks griezt vēstures ratu uz priekšu.

Brīvība un labklājība. Eiropa ir mūsu nākotne, tā ir atkarīga no mums!

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Mārtiņš Zemītis: Eiropu nevienam neizjaukt!

Vecums: 35
Tautība: Latvietis
Ģimene: Precējies, 2 bērni: Mārtiņš juniors – 4.5 gadi, Estere Elizabete – 3 gadi
Nodarbošanās: (kopš 2014.gada 1.janvāra) Ekonomists, Eiropas Komisija, Rīga, Latvija
Iepriekš: Administrators, Eiropas Parlamenta Budžeta komitejas sekretariāts, Brisele
Intereses: Fitness, skvošs, kalnu slēpošana, teātris, ceļošana, debates un politiķu biogrāfiskie romāni
Valodas: Latviešu, angļu, krievu, franču
Mīļākais ēdiens: Steiks ar ceptiem kartupeļiem
Moto: Ja kaut ko dari, kāpēc to neizdarīt izcili?

martins zemitis 3Jūs esat dzimis Latvijā, mācījies Amerikā, bet šobrīd par savu mājvietu esat izvēlējies Briseli – Eiropas Savienības epicentru. Kāpēc?
Piedzimu un skolā gāju Lavijā, kas tajā laikā bija slēgta sabiedrība Padomju Savienībā, bet studēt augstskolā devos uz Ameriku, jo dzelzs priekškars jau bija pavēries. Augstskolā, studējot un iedziļinoties pasaules un Eiropas vēsturē, literatūrā un ekonomikā, es sastapos ar to kultūru daudzveidību, kas caurstrāvo vienotās Eiropas projektu. Unikālais veids kā Eiropa spēja pārvērst savus vēsturiskos konfliktus pozitīvās vērtībās caur kopīgām instiūcijām, tirgiem un mobilitāti bija stāsts, kas mani patiešām iedvesmoja un aizrāva.

Un tad jūs izlēmāt, kā vēlaties piedalīties šajā Eiropas projektā?
Tieši tā, un tas patiešām ir aizraujoši; šai 28 valstu un 24 valodu “mašīnai” īstenībā nevajadzētu darboties, bet tā darbojas. Un tas ir nozīmīgs iemesls, kāpēc es strādāju Eiropas labā – apbrīnojot sasniegto, bet vēloties padarīt Eiropas Savienību labāku, kaut mazā, personiskā veidā, savu iespēju robežās.

Lielākais sasniegums Eiropas vēsturē ir tas, ka Eiropā valda miers un tā joprojām ir magnēts valstīm, kuras tiecas uz augstiem demokrātijas, cilvēktiesību un likuma varas standartiem.

Ko jūs ikdienā darāt savā birojā?
Dalīšos ar kādu konkrētu darba piemēru, par ko esmu lepns. Pirms neilga laika Eiropas Parlaments nobalsoja par budžeta ietvaru nākamajiem septiņiem gadiem. Kā Budžeta sekretariāta komandas loceklis ikdienā biju iesaistīts eiroparlamenta pozīciju, balsojumu un stratēģiju sagatavošanā un padomu sniegšanā parlamenta deputātiem. Mana atbildība bija budžets kultūras, pilsonības un drošības jomās. Parlamenta pozīcija šajā budžeta sadaļā bija sakņota pārliecībā, ka Eiropas mērogā vairāk jāinvestē mūsu māksliniekos, dizaineros, studentos, aktieros un citos radošajos prātos, lai piesaistītu viņu potenciālu “radošo industriju” attīstībai, pat ja budžeta kopapjoms tiek samazināts. Galu galā, pēc divu gadu darba, eiroparlamentam izdevās uzlabot Eiropas Komisijas sākotnējo priekšlikumu un pārliecināt dalībvalstis, ka 10% pieaaugums finansējuma programmai “Radošā Eiropa” ir pamatots un nepieciešams. Diena, kad notika parlamenta gala balsojums par šo programmu, man bija laimīga diena.

Vai jūs dalījāties savā priekā ar draugiem un ģimenes locekļiem?
Uzreiz pēc plenārsēdes balsojuma Strasbūrā, es ierakstīju jaunumus par finansējuma palielināšanu uz savas Facebook “sienas”. Mani draugi – topošie aktieri –, kas Londonā šobrīd studē aktiermeistarību, nekavējoties sāka spiest “man patīk” un izplatīja tālāk manu ziņu. Viņi pievienoja komentārus, kuros apliecināja pateicību. Tajā brīdi es sapratu, ka mans daždien nepateicīgais darbs ar tabulām, grafikiem, notām un juridiskiem argumentiem ir vainagojies ar konkrētu rezultātu, ko novērtē un izjūt grupiņa topošo profesionāļu. Tā bija patīkama, labi izdarīta darba sajūta.

Vienlaikus, tas ir arī konkrēts piemērs tam, ko ikdienā dara Eiropas ierēdņi. Tomēr daudzi uzskata, ka birokrātiskā mašinērija ir pārāk liela…
Patiešām, daudzi domā, ka Eiropas ierēdniecība ir bezizmēra un Eiropas budžets nav samērojams ar tiem ietaupījumiem un griezieniem, kurus iepriekšējos gados piedzīvojuši dalībvalstu nacionālie budžeti. Tomēr realitātē kopējais “birokrātu” skaits visā Eiropas sistēmā ir salīdzināms ar vienas Edinburgas (Skotija) pilsētas pārvaldes darbinieku skaitu un, piemēram, Eiropas Parlamenta gada budžets vienam nodokļu maksātājam gadā izmaksā ap 3 eiro – tikpat, par cik var nopirkt vienu labu tasīti kafijas Parīzē. Vai tiešām šādi – salīdzinoši – paskatoties, kāds vēl apgalvos, ka birokrātija ir par lielu?martins zemitis

Bet jūs taču nenoliegsiet, ka ES varētu būt efektīvāka tās darba organizācijā?
Neapšaubāmi Eiropas Savienībai ir jātiecas uz tālāku pārvaldes modernizāciju. Pastāv vēl pārāk daudz, manuprāt, lieku procedūru un uzlabojamu sistēmu. Daļēji tas skaidrojams ar “straujas augšanas sindromu” – no sākotnējām sešām dalībvalstīm 1950.gados līdz 28 dalībvalstīm šodien. Institūcijas, kaut arī mainījušas, ne vienmēr mainījušās tik ātri, lai samērotos ar jaunākajiem atklājumiem efektivitātē, ergonomikā un optimizācijā. Ilgie kompromisa meklējumi starp institūcijām un garie likumu ieviešanas termiņi reizēm padara neiespējamu ātri plūkt sava darba augļus. Ir jāiemācās pacietība un darba motivācija reizēm jārod vairāk abstraktos ideālos, nekā konkrētos sasniegumos.

Kādu jūs redzat Eiropas nākotni? Ko Eiropa mums visiem nozīmē ilgtermiņā?
Lielākais sasniegums Eiropas vēsturē ir tas, ka Eiropā valda miers un tā joprojām ir magnēts valstīm, kuras tiecas uz augstiem demokrātijas, cilvēktiesību un likuma varas standartiem. Veids, kā Eiropa ir spējusi “saspiesties ar mugurām kopā” un parādīt solidaritāti ar valstīm gan ziemeļos, gan dienvidos, kuras smagāk skārusi finanšu krīze, vēl un vēlreiz apliecina, ka dalīšanās un dziļi konflikti vairs nav iespējami. Šis ir projekts, kurš nav atdarāms. Protams, Eiropa debatēs par pareizāko ceļu uz priekšu. Protams, Eiropa katrreiz spers divus soļus uz priekšu un vienu – atpakaļ. Un, protams, ik pa brīdim Eiropa apstāsties, lai pārdomātu, kurš ir pareizākais ceļš uz priekšu. Bet Eiropa nenoies no sliedēm.

martins zemitis 2Vai jūs esat lepns piedalīties šajā procesā?
Kad Eiropas Savienībai pasniedza Nobela miera prēmiju, es kopā ar dažiem kolēģiem biju ceļā uz pusdienām Jacques Delors ēkā (kurā izvietotas divas ES kosultatīvās komitejas – Reģionu komiteja un Eiropas Ekonomiskā un sociālā komiteja). Ceremoniju no Oslo pārraidīja uz liela ekrāna Delors ēkas lobijā. Todien es nokavēju pusdienas, bet apziņa, ka esi daļa no projekta, kurš nopelnījis pasaules augstāko miera prēmiju, iedvesmoja mani gan tajā dienā, gan daudzas dienas uz priekšu. Bet todien es biju īpaši lepns.

Vai jūs sevi uzskatāt par eiropieti, latvieti vai Briseles pilsoni?
Kaut kādās proporcijās, pa daļai no katra. Piemēram, mājās mums patīk gatavot belģu receptes, bet ar Latvijā augušām sastāvdaļām. Tos pašus parastākos pommes frites – divreiz eļļā ceptus kartupelīšus, kas ir tipiski beļģisks ēdiens, mēs cepam no izejvielām, kas Briselē atgādātas no Latvijas, jo mums šķiet, ka kartupeļi Briselē negaršo tā, kā Latvijā, un tieši garšas kā bērnības un dzimtenes atmiņas svešumā pietrūkst visvairāk. Tajā pašā laikā, kad es runāju ar kolēģiem par Eiropas kultūras galvaspilsētām, es jūtos rīdzinieks, jo mana dzimtā pilsēta šogad ir visas Eiropas kultūras galvaspilsēta. Kad stāstu par “dziesmoto revolūciju”, es jūtos latvietis, jo tā saucās revolūcija, kas atnesa Latvijas neatkarību. Visbeidzot, kad es domāju par vēsturi, es jūtos eiropietis, jo vēsture tik bieži ir sadalījusi Eiropu, bet mūsu izaicinājums tagad ir veidot gan kopēju Eiropas nākotni, gan arvien kopīgāku izpratni par Eiropas pagātni.

Daudzveidība, Solidaritāte, Miers. Eiropa ir mūsu nākotne, tā atkarīga no mums!

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Martins Zemetis: Europa wird nicht auseinanderbrechen!

“Die Anzahl der MitarbeiterInnen aller EU-Institutionen gleicht dem des öffentlichen Dienstes der Stadt Edinburgh.”

Nach seinem Studium in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, widmete sich der sport- und kulturbegeisterte Vater zweier Kinder, Martins Zemetis, ganz Europa und arbeitete zunächst im Budgetausschuss des Europäischen Parlaments, bevor er im Jänner 2014 in die Vertretung der Europäischen Kommission in Riga wechselte. Das Brüsseler “Steak-frites” ist nach wie vor seine Lieblingsspeise.
Für den Letten ist es wichtig, dass er als Teil des europäischen Projekts seinen Beitrag zu einem besseren Europa leisten kann. Ganz besonders stolz war er, als die Europäische Union mit dem Friedensnobelpreis ausgezeichnet wurde. Er betont, dass die Anzahl der EU-MitarbeiterInnen entgegen einer weit verbreiteten Meinung relativ gering ist. Aber auch die europäische Verwaltung muss verbessert werden und sich auf das Wesentliche konzentrieren.
Der Erfolg Europas? Der Frieden. Und dass andere Länder nach wie vor der Europäischen Union beitreten wollen, um von unseren hohen Standards in Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit und Menschenrechten profitieren zu können.
Europäisch fühlt sich Martins Zemetis beim Gedanken an die Geschichte Europas, wogegen er ganz Lette ist, wenn er an die “singende Revolution” denkt, die die politische Änderung in seinem Lande brachte. Und er ist stolzer Bürger von Riga, der Europäischen Kulturhauptstadt 2014.

Vielfalt, Solidarität, Frieden. Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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Martins Zemitis: L’Europe ne sera pas défaite!

“Le nombre total de fonctionnaires qui travaillent pour l’Union européenne de 28 états membres est comparable à celui de l’administration de la ville d’Edimbourg”

Martins a étudié aux Etats Unis, mais c’est en Europe qu’il a décidé de travailler. D’abord à Bruxelles puis depuis peu de retour en Lettonie, son pays d’origine, il reste fasciné par le projet européen. C’est pendant son séjour de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique qu’il a compris que ce projet à 28 dans 24 langues n’avait rien d’ordinaire, que malgré ses soubresauts la machine allait toujours trouver en elle l’énergie d’aller de l’avant.
Pour Martins, même si les processus de décision sont longs et compliqués, il n’en reste pas moins que c’est ce magnétisme qui continue d’attirer des candidats à l’adhésion, aspirant aux mêmes standards que l’Union en terme de droits de l’homme, d’état de droit et de démocratie. L’Union peut toujours mieux faire pour moderniser son administration, au service de ses citoyens, il le reconnait volontiers. Alors il essaie d’appliquer au quotidien cette maxime qu’il a trouvée dans une des biographies politiques qu’il aime lire, et qu’il a fait sienne « quand on entreprend quelque chose, pourquoi ne pas le faire le mieux possible ? »

Diversité, Solidarité, Paix. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous!


 

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Maria Helena Costa: L’Europe c’est l’unité dans la diversité!

Nationalité: Portugaise
Occupation: Huissier au Comité des Régions (CoR)
Hobbies: Lecture, théâtre, cinéma, marche nordique

Versão em português
Une autre voix de Portugal: Dulce, l’amie d’Helena
Deutsche Zusammenfassung
English Summary

Vous habitez Bruxelles depuis longtemps?
Depuis 38 ans déjà. Ce n’est pas le beau temps qui m’a attirée ici, mais la situation économique au Portugal qui m’a fait quitter mon pays. Après que le Portugal est devenu membre de l’Union en 1986, j’ai participé à un concours général pour le personnel de l’Union européenne et voilà, j’ai commencé à travailler pour l’Europe pas longtemps après.helena costa 4

Vous avez toujours voulu travailler pour l’Europe ?
Il faut savoir que jusqu’en 1986, l’Europe n’était pour moi qu’une utopie, un monde à part. Ce n’est qu’après l’adhésion du Portugal que je me suis dit que peut-être un jour je pourrais travailler pour l’Europe. Je n’y croyais pas trop, mais c’est là que l’idée est née, et ce fût ma grande chance

Après tellement d’années de travail au sein de l’Union, vous définiriez l’Europe comment ?
L’Europe, c’est une magnifique ouverture à l’autre. C’est un enrichissement, et si on veut bien se donner la peine d’être attentif, on apprend et on s’enrichit tous les jours en travaillant ici.

L’Europe, c’est une magnifique ouverture à l’autre.

C’est cela que vous ressentez dans votre travail au quotidien ?
Oui, quand on a l’opportunité de parler un peu avec les autres, d’avoir des conversations avec certains membres du Comité des Régions, on comprend mieux la réalité qui est la leur. On peut ensuite la comparer à notre propre réalité. Après cela, on réalise vite qu’il y a beaucoup de poids et de mesures dans notre belle Union européenne. C’est vraiment l’unité dans la diversité!

Vous croyez en une identité européenne ?
Pour cela, il faut avant tout se sentir appartenir à un lieu, à un endroit, à une culture. C’est cette base qui vous donne la possibilité de vous ouvrir aux autres. Si vous êtes bien dans votre culture, alors vous arriverez à vous ouvrir aux autres. En tous cas, c’est ce qui m’est arrivé à moi.

Solidarité, Respect, Tolérance. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous!

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Maria Helena Costa: A Europa é a unidade na diversidade!

Nacionalidade: Portuguesa
Profissão: Contínuo de reuniões no Comité das Regiões (CoR)
Hobbies: Leitura, teatro, cinema, marcha nórdica

helena costa 1Mora em Bruxelas há muito tempo?
Há 38 anos.Não foi o bom tempo que me atraíu, mas a situação económica em Portugal que me fez deixar o meu país. Depois da adesão de Portugal em 1986, participei num concurso geral para o pessoal da União europeia e comecei a trabalhar para a Europa 3 anos depois.

Sempre quis trabalhar para a Europa?
Até 1986 a Europa era para mim uma utopia um mundo à parte.Só depois da adesão de Portugal
é que pensei que poderia um dia trabalhar para a Europa, não acreditei muito mas foi aí que a ideia nasceu e considero que foi a minha grande oportunidade.

Depois de tantos anos de trabalho na União, como definiria a Europa?
A Europa é uma magnífica abertura ao outro. É um enriquecimento e aprendizagem quotidianos
em todos os sentidos, humano pessoal, profissional

A Europa é uma magnífica abertura ao outro

É o que sente no seu trabalho de todos os dias?
Sim é o que sinto, quand converso com outros colegas ou membros do CdR compreendo a realidade deles e comparo com a minha própria realidade.Aí apercebo-me que há muitos pesos e medidas na nossa bela União Europeia. É verdadeirament a unidade na diversidade!

Acredita em uma identidade europeia?
Para isso é fundamental sentir que pertencemos a um lugar, a uma cultura. É essa base que nos dá a possibilidade de nos abrirmos aos outros. Se se sentir bem na sua cultura, então mais fácilmente se abrirá aos outros.Em todo o caso, foi assim que se passou comigo.

Solidariedade, Respeito, Tolerância. A Europa é o nosso futuro e está nas nossas mãos!

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Dulce Costa: l’Europe doit défendre les droits fondamentaux des citoyens européens

Age:35
Nationalité: Portugaise
Occupation: Fonctionnaire
Hobbies: Voyager, lire, la peinture et arts décoratifs
Mon lien avec Maria Helena: Nièce et filleule

Comment l’Europe influence votre vie?
L’intégration dans le marché unique a permis la libre circulation des biens, des services et des personnes. Cela a changé considérablement la façon de vivre des européens: ce changement nous donne la possibilité d’étudier, de voyager, de travailler dans n’importe quel état membre. Nous ne sommes plus isolés dans notre pays, et avons une porte ouverte sur le village global auquel nous appartenons.

Qu’est ce qui retient le plus l’attention de vos compatriotes par rapport à l’Europe?
Actuellement, les plus grandes préoccupations des gens sont en rapport avec le chômage, le système de santé et l’éducation. Dans un marché beaucoup plus globalisé, les effets de la crise se multiplient et la plupart des entreprises sont touchées. Le taux élevé du chômage associé à la perte croissante du pouvoir d’achat recentre tous les européens sur la satisfaction des besoins élémentaires comme la santé, l’éducation, la justice, sans parler de l’accès à la culture qui devient un luxe de riches.

Quel est votre plus grand souhait pour l’Europe?
Je souhaite que l’Europe défende les valeurs de liberté, de sécurité, de prospérité, de démocratie et de justice pour ses citoyens. Que les droits de l’homme soient respectés et que la liberté et dignité humaine soient assurées. Ce n’est qu’en garantissant la défense des droits fondamentaux qu’il est possible de structurer une société plus juste et fraternelle, en même temps que plus compétitive et plus riche de promesses.

Comment vous connaissez Helena et quel regard portez-vous sur ce qu’elle fait à Bruxelles?
J’ai accompagné le parcours de vie de ma tante (et marraine depuis toujours, et j’ai même eu l’opportunité de lui rendre visite à son travail. C’est une personne aux principes et valeurs bien enracinés, je sais donc qu’elle fait toujours preuve d’une grande responsabilité dans toutes les tâches qu’elle accomplie. A Bruxelles, j’espère qu’elle pourra faire connaître un peu de la réalité qui se vit au Portugal, en signalant par exemple les situations à corriger et améliorer. Elle pourra aussi valoriser ce que nous avons de positif, en montrant les coutumes, traditions, bonnes pratiques et projets innovants qui nous rendent uniques et nous distinguent des autres citoyens européens.

Liberté, Sécurité, Prospérité. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous!

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Dulce Costa: A Europa deve defender os direitos fundamentais dos cidadãos europeus

Age:35
Nacionalidade: Portuguesa
Profissão: Administrativa
Hobbies: Viajar, leitura, pintura, artes decorativas
Ligação com a Helena: sobrinha e afilhada

Que influência tem a Europa na sua vida?
A integração no Mercado Único permitiu a livre circulação de bens, serviços, pessoas e mudou extraordinariamente o modo de vida dos europeus em geral. Com esta alteração é possível estudar, viajar, trabalhar em qualquer um dos estados-membros. Deixamos de estar isolados no nosso país e passamos a ter uma dimensão mais alargada da aldeia global em que estamos inseridos.

O que pensa que incomoda mais os seus compatriotas em relação à Europa?
Atualmente as maiores preocupações estão relacionadas com o desemprego, sistema de saúde e educação. Mum mercado cada vez mais globalizado, os efeitos da crise vão-se multiplicando e a generalidade das empresas vai sendo atingida. A elevada taxa de desemprego associada a uma crescente perda de poder de compra condiciona as pessoas na satisfação das suas necessidades básicas como são a saúde, a educação, à justiça, para já não falar do acesso à cultura que acaba por se tornar um luxo de ricos.

Qual é o seu maior desejo para a Europa?
Desejo que a Europa defenda os valores de liberdade, segurança , prosperidade, democracia e justiça dos cidadãos. Que haja respeito pelos direitos do Homem, e que seja assegurada a sua liberdade e dignidade. Só garantindo a defesa dos direitos fundamentais é possivel estruturar uma sociedade mais justa e fraterna e, simultaneamente mais competitiva e promissora.

Como é que conhece a Helena e como vê o que ela faz em Bruxelas?
Eu sei o que a minha tia (e madrinha) faz porque fui acompanhando o seu percurso de vida e já tive oportunidade de a visitar algumas vezes no seu local de trabalho. Sendo uma pessoa de principios e valores bem enraizados sei que tem sempre como linha orientadora uma conduta de responsabilidade em qualquer tarefa desempenhada. Dentro das suas possibilidades espero que possa dar a conhecer um pouco da realidade vivida em Portugal , sendo uma voz ativa na denuncia de situações a corrigir. Por outro lado, e porque tambem devemos valorizar o que temos de positivo (e que é muito), ter oportunidade de mostrar costumes, tradições, boas práticas e projetos inovadores que nos individualizam e distinguem dos demais cidadãos europeus.

Liberdade, Segurança, Prosperidade. A Europa é o nosso futuro e está nas nossas mãos!

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Maria Helena Costa: Europa ist Einheit in der Vielfalt!

helena costa 5„Wenn Sie sich wohl in Ihrer Kultur fühlen, dann sind Sie auch offen für andere. So ist es mir jedenfalls gegangen.“

Die schwierige wirtschaftliche Situation in ihrem Heimatland veranlasste die Portugiesin Maria Helena Costa vor 38 Jahren nach Brüssel auszuwandern. Seit dem Beitritt Portugals zur EU arbeitet sie als Amtsbote für die EU Institutionen, derzeit im Ausschuss der Regionen. In ihrer Arbeit im Dienst der Mitglieder des Ausschusses der Regionen sorgt sie dafür, dass die Politiker der Regionen und Städte Europas, die sich zu Beratungen in Brüssel treffen, alle Dokumente erhalten, alle ihre administrativen Fragen – trotz Sprachschwierigkeiten -beantwortet bekommen und sich in einem perfekt vorbereitetem Sitzungsaal treffen können.
Europa bedeutet für Maria Helena Öffnung und Bereicherung. Sie ist von der europäischen Idee überzeugt. Sie fühlt sich wohl in ihrer Kultur, was ihr ermöglicht, sich auch für andere Kulturen zu interessieren. In ihrer Freizeit begeistert sie sich fürs Lesen, Theater, Kino und Nordic Walking.

Solidarität, Respekt, Toleranz. Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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Maria Helena Costa: Europe is unity in diversity!

“Europe is a fantastic gateway to a world of new experiences”helena costa 2

Maria Helena Costa, an usher at the Committee of the Regions, left the sunny climes of Portugal to come to Brussels 38 years ago to find a better job. Before 1986, the idea of working for Europe was just a dream, but one that finally came true after Portugal joined the EU.
Europe for her is not just about the politics but about the rich diversity of people and cultures – every day you can learn something new. This is one of the things she enjoys most about her job, talking to the various local and regional politicians from across the EU who are members of the Committee, learning about their experiences and what life is like for them.
And yet for all the many differences between EU citizens and countries, she believes in a sort of European identity. It’s important to have an identity, a culture, but to be open and receptive to the identities and cultures of others. That is her personal experience of what it means to be a European.

Solidarity, Respect, Tolerance. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us.


 

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Terje Peetso: Europe cares about your health!

Age: 50
Nationality: Estonian
Occupation: Policy officer for eHealth matters in the Health and Wellbeing unit in DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology
Hobbies: music, literature, travel, bridge
Languages you speak: Estonian, English, Russian, French and Finnish

Read it in Estonian
Another voice from Estonia: Terje’s sparring partner
Deutsche Zusammenfassung
Sommaire en français

terje peetso 1You now work in the European Commission, but you first trained as a medical doctor, didn’t you?
That’s right. My mother worked as a doctor and I think she was an excellent role model for both me and my sister, as we both became medical doctors. But when I was looking to change jobs in January 2003, I saw an advert on the opportunities to work for the EU and it seemed like an interesting new challenge. Estonia was not even an EU member state back then, but I sent in my application and got the job.

Did your job change a lot as a result?
Before I joined the EU, I was working for a pharmaceutical company, which meant I was already familiar with the international cooperation aspect of the role. And thanks to my earlier involvement in the work of a health NGO I also knew just how much can be done at the European level for public health and for healthcare systems. My current role working on eHealth issues means that I’m still staying close to my roots!

Isn’t healthcare more of a national issue?
It’s true that healthcare is mostly a competence of the member states, but there are many ways that the EU can support them in this area. Take for example Horizon 2020, the new Research and Innovation Programme of the European Union, which is an excellent way to support healthcare research across the EU and will help to improve healthcare at the regional and local level. And in fact there are some areas – such as eHealth – where everyone has agreed that EU-level cooperation would help achieving better results.

People often say that the decision-making process at the EU level is too slow, but in fact sometimes it needs to be slow to allow sufficient time for assessing all the pros and cons of an issue.

How do you define ‘better results’?
Well, for example, we want to put a system in place across the EU that will give doctors access to patients’ electronic health records if they need medical assistance when they are in another EU member state. Or in a similar vein, we are moving towards a system of cross-border ePrescriptions that would allow citizens to get the medication they are prescribed at home from pharmacies abroad. The freedom to travel quickly and easily wherever we want to in Europe is one of the many privileges we all benefit from as EU citizens, so making it easier to do so healthily is best dealt with at the European level.

Is it hard to get all 28 member states to agree on this sort of EU-level action in an area where national authorities still take the lead?
It needs to be stressed once again that at the EU level healthcare is mainly addressed when it comes to cross-border issues although certain information sharing and learning from best practices happens also in other areas of healthcare. It’s certainly true that attitudes need to evolve. We all need to try to listen and understand more. People often say that the decision-making process at the EU level is too slow, but in fact sometimes it needs to be slow to allow sufficient time for assessing all the pros and cons of an issue. We have to take the maximum out of the system, allowing everybody – not just experts or institutions but citizens as well – to have their say, with all the necessary facts and figures at their fingertips.

You’ve been in Brussels for some time now. Do you like living there?
Well, one thing that continues to strike me even after all this time is how the food in Belgium is so different from Estonian food. I have got used to it now of course, but there are still certain items that I always bring back with me from Estonia. Predominantly rye bread, but there are always a few other items that always seem to find their way into my bag – my luggage is almost always overweight when I come back to Brussels! But at the same time I have learned a lot more about cheese from living in Brussels, and one thing I particularly appreciate is that the first local strawberries arrive as early as May! I also adore the small bakeries in Brussels that such offer a wonderful choice of fresh bread and fantastic cakes – from tiny little things to great big ones.

Where do you feel at home? Do you still feel Estonian?
My home is where my family is, and they are in Tartu. So in that sense I am a citizen of Tartu. But at the same time I feel both Estonian and European. When I’m on the subject of winter, then I’m definitely an Estonian, because that is what I miss most when I’m in Brussels – although of course most of my colleagues do not share my love for snow, sunshine and temperatures of 20 below freezing! But when I’m on the subject of eHealth, then I’m definitely a European. This is what I work on in Brussels and something that I can see has great potential benefits for all Europeans. The diversity of life in Brussels is something I also cherish. My children have now returned to Estonia, but I am sure that their years in Brussels have helped them to understand more about the many different faces of Europe and to accept it in all its diversity.

Health, Solidarity, Equality. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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Terje Peetso: Euroopa hoolib su tervisest!

Vanus: 50
Rahvus: eestlane
Amet: Euroopa Komisjoni kommunikatsioonivõrkude ja tehnoloogia peadirektoraadi tervise ja heaolu üksuses eTervise valdkonnaga tegelev poliitikaametnik
Hobid: muusika, kirjandus, reisimine, bridž
Keeled: eesti, inglise, vene, prantsuse ja soome

terje peetso 2Praegu töötate Euroopa Komisjonis, kuid tegelikult olete ju õppinud arstiks?
Vastab tõele. Ka mu ema oli arst. Minu arvates oli ta suurepärane eeskuju nii mulle kui mu õele, sest me mõlemad valisime arsti elukutse. Kui ma 2003. aasta jaanuaris vaatasin ringi töökohavahetuse mõtetega, märkasin kuulutust, kus pakuti võimalust asuda tööle Euroopa Liidu heaks. See tundus uue ja huvitava väljakutsena. Tol ajal ei olnud Eesti veel Euroopa Liidu liikmesriik, kuid ma saatsin avalduse ja saingi selle töökoha.

Kas selle tulemusena muutusid Teie tööülesanded palju?
Enne Euroopa Liidu avalikku teenistusse asumist töötasin ühes ravimifirmas, mistõttu olin juba tuttav rahvusvahelise koostöö aspektidega. Tänu mu varasemale kaasatusele tervisealase mittetulundusühingu töösse teadsin ka seda, kui palju on Euroopa tasandil võimalik ära teha rahvatervise ja tervishoiusüsteemide heaks. Minu praegune töö eTervise alal tähendab aga seda, et ma tegutsen jätkuvalt mulle tuttavas ja südamelähedases valdkonnas!

Sageli öeldakse, et Euroopa Liidu tasandil on otsustusprotsess liiga aeglane, kuid tegelikult peabki see mõnikord aeglane olema, et anda piisavalt aega kõigi poolt- ja vastuargumentide hindamiseks.

Kas tervishoid pole rohkem mitte liikmesriigi teema?
On tõsi, et tervishoid kuulub peamiselt liikmesriigi pädevusse, kuid Euroopa Liit saab palju ära teha, et neid selles valdkonnas toetada. Võtame kasvõi Euroopa Liidu uue teadusuuringute ja innovatsiooni raamprogrammi Horisont 2020, mis on suurepärane võimalus toetada tervishoiualaseid teadusuuringuid kogu Euroopa Liidus ning mis aitab kaasa tervishoiu edendamisele nii piirkondlikul kui kohalikul tasandil. Kõik on nõus, et mõnes valdkonnas, sealhulgas ka eTervise alal, aitab Euroopa Liidu ülene koostöö saavutada paremaid tulemusi.

Kuidas Te määratlete “paremaid tulemusi”?
Näiteks tahame me luua Euroopa Liidu ülese süsteemi, mis võimaldaks arstidel pääseda ligi patsientide elektroonilistele terviseandmetele. Seda juhul, kui patsiendid vajavad arstiabi mõnes muus liikmesriigis. Samuti liigume piiriülese süsteemi eRetsept suunas, mis võimaldaks kodanikel osta ravimeid ükskõik millisest välismaa apteegist oma pere- või eriarsti poolt kodumaal väljastatud digiretseptiga. Vabadus reisida kõikjal Euroopas kiiresti ning hõlpsalt on üks paljudest eelistest, millest me Euroopa kodanikena kõik kasu saame. Seda, et piiriülene liikumine lisaks lihtsusele ka tervisega seonduvat arvestaks, saab kõige paremini korraldada Euroopa Liidu tasandil.

Kas on raske leida ühist keelt kõigi 28 liikmesriigiga ja leppida kokku Euroopa Liidu ülestes meetmetes valdkonnas, kus liikmesriikide ametivõimudel on juhtroll?
Tuleb veelkord rõhutada, et ehkki Euroopa Liidu tasandil võetakse tervishoid jutuks peamiselt koos piiriüleste teemadega, jagatakse teavet ning õpitakse parimatest kogemustest ka tervishoiuvaldkonniti. Igal juhul on selge, et mõtteviise saab ja tuleb veel kujundada. Tuleb püüda rohkem kuulata ja mõista. Sageli öeldakse, et Euroopa Liidu tasandil on otsustusprotsess liiga aeglane, kuid tegelikult peabki see mõnikord aeglane olema, et anda piisavalt aega kõigi poolt- ja vastuargumentide hindamiseks. Tuleb võtta maksimum süsteemist, mis puudutab igaüht – mitte üksnes eksperte või institutsioone, vaid ka kodanikke – võttes arvesse nende arvamust koos kõigi neile teadaolevate vajalike faktide ja numbritega.

Te olete olnud Brüsselis juba üsna pikka aega. Kuidas meeldib Teile siinne elu?
Üks asi, mis mind pärast kõiki neid siin veedetud aastaid jätkuvalt hämmastab, on see, kui palju Belgia toit Eesti toidust erineb. Nüüdseks olen ma muidugi ära harjunud, kuid ikka toon ma iga kord Eestist midagi ühes. Eelkõige rukkileiba, kuid mitte ainult. Alati leiavad ka muud toiduained tee mu kohvrisse, mistõttu on mu pagas Brüsselisse naasmisel pea alati ülekaaluline! Siin elades olen õppinud lugu pidama erinevatest juustusortidest. Üks asi, mida ma aga siin kevadeti pikisilmi ootan, on esimeste kohalike maasikate letilejõudmine juba maikuus. Veel armastan ma üliväga Brüsseli pisikesi pagarikodasid – nende suurepärast valikut ahjusooje saiu-saiakesi ja fantastilisi kondiitritooteid alates tibatillukestest kookidest kuni hiiglaslike tortideni.

Millist paika peate oma koduks? Kas tunnete end ikka veel eestlasena?
Mu kodu on seal, kus on mu pereliikmed – ja nemad on Tartus. Selles mõttes pean ma end Tartu kodanikuks. Kuid samal ajal tunnen ma end ka nii eestlase kui eurooplasena. Mis puutub suhtumisse talve, siis olen ma igal juhul eestlane, sest korralikust talvest tunnen ma siin Brüsselis olles kõige rohkem puudust. Selge on muidugi see, et suurem osa mu kolleegidest ei jaga mu vaimustust karge ja lumerohke talve suhtes, mil külma on paarkümmend pügalat. Kui ma aga pean silmas eTervist, siis tunnen ma end kindlasti eurooplasena. Selle kallal ma siin Brüsselis töötan ja selles näen ma suurt potentsiaali kõigi Euroopa kodanike hüvanguks. Mind lummab Brüsseli elu mitmepalgelisus. Mu lapsed on nüüd tagasi Eestis, kuid ma olen kindel, et Brüsselis veedetud aastad aitasid neil paremini mõista Euroopa erinevaid külgi ning võtta neid omaks kogu oma mitmekesisuses.

Tervis, solidaarsus, võrdsus. Euroopa on meie tulevik. See on meie kõigi jaoks!

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Jüri Ploom: Efficiency matters!

Age: 43
Nationality: Estonian
Occupation: Solicitor
Hobbies: tennis
My link with Terje: family friend for many years

How do you get aware of the EU in your daily life in Estonia?
Well, Europe certainly makes it easier for me to travel around, and for my business it opens opportunities to trade and to work internationally. At the same time, though, the EU means I have to deal with a lot of paperwork. I sometimes have the impression that Europe has created too many ridiculous rules covering even the most basic of issues.

Do you think other people in your country share your view on Europe?
I feel that people here in Estonia sometimes have the impression that there are two different Europes, moving at different speeds: “Old Europe” and “Eastern Europe”. They also worry about the growth in immigration as a result of European integration, and there is a feeling that the EU institutions are inefficient and expensive. We feel that so much of their everyday work could be done electronically and that a lot of people who have moved to Brussels could return to their home country. At the moment we have very little idea what all those EU civil servants actually do all day!

What is the main change you would like to see in Europe?
I would like a more competitive Europe. A Europe that is more flexible and easier to manage.

Mobility and Free Trade. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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Terje Peetso: Europa sorgt sich um Ihre Gesundheit!

“Der freie Personenverkehr ist für uns EU-BürgerInnen ein wichtiges Privileg innerhalb der EU, wenn wir dabei auch noch eine europaweite Gesundheitsversorgung haben, ist es umso besser.”

In ihrer Arbeit im Bereich e-Gesundheit in der Generaldirektion für Kommunikationsnetze, Inhalte und Technologien der Europäischen Kommission kann die Estin Terje Peetso ihre Ausbildung als Medizinerin gut anwenden.
Das Gesundheitswesen ist natürlich nach wie vor Kompetenz der EU Mitgliedstaaten. Nichtsdestotrotz unterstützt das EU Forschungsprogramm Horizon2020 gerade diesen Bereich auch auf europäischer Ebene. Die Menschen denken oft, dass die Entscheidungsprozesse auf EU-Ebene so langwierig sind, aber das ist nach Terjes Auffassung notwendig, um wirklich alle Vor- und Nachteile abwägen zu können und alle Interessierten am Konsultationsprozess beteiligen zu können.
Terje Peetso fühlt sich als Estin, wenn sie an ihre Familie denkt, denn diese lebt in Tartu. Zur Überraschung aller ihrer KollegInnen vermisst sie den estnischen Winter mit Schnee, Sonne und -20 Grad Celsius. Aber die große Auswahl an Mehlspeisen und Käse sowie die frischen Erdbeeren ab Anfang Mai begeistern sie in Brüssel. Privat verbringt die Estin ihre Freizeit gerne mit Musik, Literatur, Reisen und Bridgespielen.

Gesundheit, Solidarität, Gleichberechtigung. Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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Terje Peetso: L’Europe a votre santé à cœur!

“La liberté que nous avons de circuler vite et facilement où nous le souhaitons en Europe est l’un des nombreux atouts de l’Union, alors s’assurer que nous puissions le faire en pleine santé c’est aussi une tâche pour l’Europe.”

Docteur de formation, Terje a travaillé dans des environnements internationaux avant même de rejoindre Bruxelles, que ce soit dans l’industrie pharmaceutique ou dans une ONG. Aujourd’hui, elle aborde les questions de santé par le prisme européen en cherchant à décloisonner les systèmes de santé pour les mettre à l’heure de la libre-circulation des personnes et des biens. C’est à l’Europe de proposer des solutions qui connectent les 28 systèmes de santé nationaux. Mais pour que cela se fasse sans accroc, il faut prendre le temps de la discussion avec tous les acteurs impliqués. L’enjeu, c’est de permettre à 500 millions de personnes de pouvoir voyager en pleine santé !

Santé, Solidarité, Egalité. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous !


 

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Morten Løkkegaard: Europe needs many local anchors presenting a new narrative!

Age: 49
Nationality: Danish
Occupation: Member of European Parliament, ALDE, vice chair of the CULT-committee
Hobbies: Tennis, literature, wine
Languages you speak: Danish, English
Family info: Married to Connie Dahl Løkkegaard, father of four

Interview på dansk
Another voice from Denmark: Morten’s sparring partner
Deutsche Zusammenfassung
Sommaire en français

morten  lokkegaard1You are a politician but this is really your second career. You made your start in journalism, didn’t you?
Yes indeed, due to my upbringing I have always had a huge interest in societal issues, democracy, civil rights and freedom of expression. Therefore it was a natural choice for me to become a journalist. After graduating from the Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus, I started as a reporter for a Danish Newspaper “Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten”, covering business, finance, and later on I also covered the political life in the Danish Parliament. In 1990 I started working at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR). From 1994 on I helped to develop a new TV-concept for investigative journalism called Søndagsmagasinet, which I hosted and edited for almost 10 years. Last, but not least, I was the anchor on the 9 o’clock news. This clearly shows, that I have always had a passion for communication – which I also use in my work now as a politician.

And when did you make the switch to politics?
That was in 2009 when I was offered the chance to become a candidate for the Danish Liberal Party and got elected for the European Parliament. They have been some very interesting years. I am running for re-election in May 2014 so I hope to continue.

If the European Project is going to survive, a new narrative is needed.

Do you still work on the same topics that interested you when you were a journalist?
Since becoming a Member of the European Parliament I have been working as vice chairman for the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) and a Member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO). In IMCO I focus particularly on Europe’s Internal Market. My latest report for the Parliament dealt with the issue of updating SOLVIT, an online problem-solving network created by the EU in which Member States work together to solve problems caused by the misapplication of Internal Market law by public authorities.

But you are not only interested in the market issue I suppose?
Obviously not. As a vice chair of the Culture and Education Committee I worked in particular on the recent upgrade of Erasmus, the new Erasmus+ programme, where I represented the ALDE group in the negotiations. This work was successfully finished in autumn 2013. We managed to secure a higher budget for the programme, which is one of Europe’s best pieces of legislation and aims to increase the European mobility of students, pupils and many other citizens.

So mobility in Europe is a success of the European integration you cherish?
The Single Market with free movement for goods, capital, services and workers is the cornerstone of the EU, even though there is still room for improvements. That is why the Commission also re-launched the ideas a few years back, because there is a huge unexploited potential in the Single Market, for instance the digital Single Market.

Do you have the feeling that people in Europe recognize the success of the EU?
When I was a journalist I experienced how hard it is for the European debate to get the proper media attention, even though it has a huge influence on national politics. As an MEP I have a unique opportunity to become part of this debate and I do my best in order to reach out to the public. This is also reflected in the EU’s New Narrative initiative, of which I was the initiator. This project is now driven by the European Commission, and a group of 20 members consisting of artists, intellectuals and scientists who have been working and debating since the spring of 2013 on what the new vision for Europe can be. The New Narrative is an addition to the story about the EU being a peace project, and not a substitute for it. I have been following their work closely, and the text published in March 2014 is an interesting starting point for the debate on what it means to be a European.

Is yours an office job or do you get to travel around?
In order to meet the right people, to get the right insights, I do have to travel. Besides the Parliamentary work in the two Committees and in my constituency in Denmark, I have a keen interest in the Parliament’s new possibilities regarding international trade agreements. It is not enough to look at national politics. We live in a globalised world, and we need Europe to strengthen our voice at a global level. Therefore I have been following the work in the Committee on International Trade and have been travelling to Asia, the US and South Africa to create networks and understanding for the EU.

Is there a negative myth about Europe you want to rectify? What is your biggest wish for Europe?
The current debate on social welfare tourism is a negative myth, and it will most likely become one of the key debates in the European elections. Free movement is one of the EUs greatest achievements, for which we need to raise public awareness. I hope that the European integration process will continue. We need to stand united in Europe, especially in the globalised world of the 21st century.

Education, Culture and Internal Market. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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Morten Løkkegaard: Den nye fortælling skal bestå af mange lokale holdepunkter – det har Europa brug for

Alder: 49
Nationalitet: Dansk
Beskæftigelse: medlem af Europa-Parlamentet, ALDE-gruppen, næstformand i Kultur- og Uddannelsesudvalget
Hobby: Tennis, litteratur, gode vine.
Sprog: Dansk, engelsk
Familie: Gift med Connie Dahl Løkkegaard, far til fire

morten  lokkegaard2Du er politiker, men det er i virkeligheden din anden karriere. Du begyndte i den journalistiske verden, ik?
Pga. min opvækst har jeg altid haft en stor interesse for samfundsmæssige problemstillinger, demokrati, borgernes rettigheder og ytringsfrihed. Derfor var det naturligt for mig at blive journalist. Da jeg blev uddannet som journalist fra Aarhus Journalisthøjskole, begyndte jeg at arbejde på Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, hvor jeg dækkede Erhverv & Økonomi og Christiansborg-redaktionen. I 1990 begyndte jeg at arbejde for Danmarks Radio (DR). Fra 1994 og frem var jeg med til at udvikle et nyt TV-koncept om undersøgende journalistik, der blev kaldt Søndagsmagasinet, hvor jeg var vært og redaktør i næsten 10 år. Sidst, men ikke mindst, har jeg været studievært på TV-Avisen. Min karriere inden for journalistikken er med til at understøtte min særlige interesse for kommunikation, hvilket jeg også har kunnet brug i mit arbejde som politiker.

Og hvornår skiftede du over til politik?
Det var i 2009, da jeg fik chancen for at blive kandidat for Venstre og efterfølgende blev valgt ind i Europa-Parlamentet. Det har været nogle meget interessante år. Jeg genopstiller til valget i maj 2014, hvor jeg håber på genvalg.

Hvis det europæiske projekt skal overleve, har vi brug for en ny fortælling.

Arbejder du stadig med de samme områder, der interesserede dig, da du var journalist?
Siden jeg blev medlem af Europa-Parlamentet, har jeg været næstformand for Kultur- og Uddannelsesudvalget (CULT) og medlem af Udvalget for Indre Marked og Forbrugerbeskyttelse (IMCO). I IMCO har jeg især fokuseret på Europas indre marked. Min seneste rapport handlede om opdateringen af SOLVIT-centrene, der er et online europæisk hjælpecentrer, hvor medlemsstaterne samarbejder om at løse problemer, når myndigheder tolker reglerne forskelligt i det indre marked.

Du er ikke kun interesseret i spørgsmål om det indre marked, antager jeg?
Naturligvis ikke. Som næstformand for CULT har jeg som det seneste arbejdet med opgraderingen af Erasmus-programmet, det nye Erasmus+ program, hvor jeg var forhandler for ALDE-gruppen. Arbejdet blev afsluttet med succes i efteråret 2013. Det er lykkedes os at sikre et højere budget for programmet, der er et af Europas bedste initiativer, og som øger mobiliteten blandt europæiske studerende og borgere.

Så du anser mobiliteten i Europa som en særlig succes for den europæiske integration?
Det indre marked med fri bevægelighed for varer, kapital, service og arbejdskraft er en af hjørnestenene i EU, selvom det stadig er plads til forbedring. Derfor lavede Kommissionen også en relancering af det indre marked for et par år siden, fordi det er et kæmpe uudnyttet potentiale i det indre marked, som fx det digitale indre marked.

Føler du, at borgerne i Europa anerkender EU’s succes?
Da jeg var journalist, oplevede jeg på nærmeste hånd, hvor hårdt det var at ”bryde igennem muren” og få den rette opmærksomhed til den europæiske debat, selvom det har stor indflydelse på national politik. Som medlem af Europa-Parlamentet har jeg en unik mulighed for at blive en del af debatten, og jeg gør mit bedste for at ”bryde igennem muren” og komme ud til borgerne. Dette afspejler sig også i projektet om ”Den Nye Fortælling for Europa”, som jeg er initiativtager til. Projektet er sidenhen blevet fulgt op af Kommissionen, og siden foråret 2013 har en gruppe bestående af 20 medlemmer – kunstnere, videnskabsfolk, skribenter og tænkere – arbejdet på at finde en ny vision for, hvad Europa er. Den nye fortælling er et supplement til den nuværende fortælling om EU som et fredens projekt, og ikke en erstatning. Jeg har fulgt gruppens arbejde meget tæt, og teksten, der netop er blevet præsenteret i marts 2014, er et godt spændende udgangspunkt for den videre debat for, hvad det vil sige at være europæer.

Er dit arbejde et typisk kontorarbejde, eller rejser du meget rundt?
For at møde mennesker og få mange indspark er jeg nødt til at rejse. Ud over det parlamentariske arbejde i de to udvalg (IMCO og CULT) og min valgkreds i Danmark, har jeg en særlig interesse i Europa-Parlamentets nye kompetencer i forhold til handelsaftaler. Det er ikke nok kun at se på national politik. Vi lever i en globaliseret verden, og vi har brug for Europa for at styrke vores stemme på et globalt niveau. Derfor følger jeg arbejdet i Udvalget for International Handel (INTA) og har rejst i både Asien, USA og Sydafrika for at skabe netværk mellem EU og omverdenen og udbrede en forståelse for Europa.

Er der en negativ myte om Europa, du vil afhjælpe? Og hvad er dit største ønske for Europa?
Den nuværende debat om velfærdsturisme er en negativ myte, og det vil med sikkerhed blive et af kernepunkterne i debatterne til Europa-Parlamentsvalget. Fri bevægelighed er en af EU’s største bedrifter, og det skal vi minde borgerne om. Jeg håber, at den europæiske integrationsproces vil fortsætte. Vi har brug for at stå sammen i Europa, især i det 21. århundredes globaliserede verden.

Uddannelse, kultur og det indre marked – Europa er vores fremtid. Det er op til os alle!

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Povl Christian Henningsen: Vi har brug for entusiasme og engagement, hvis vi skal vinde de borgere tilbage, der har vendt Europa ryggen

Morten’s sparring partner
Alder: 65
Nationalitet: Dansk
Beskæftigelse: Selvstændig, konsulentvirksomhed
Hobby: tennis, fitness, sang og litteratur
Min forbindelse med interviewpersonen: Har arbejdet med Morten Løkkegaard i forbindelse med projektet “Den Nye Fortælling for Europa”

Hvilken indflydelse har Europa i dit liv?
Jeg arbejder aktivt med EU-spørgsmål og europæiske anliggender i alle henseender af mit professionelle liv. Jeg rådgiver virksomhederne om at kommunikere bedre på tværs af kulturer. International ledelse og teambuilding er andre vigtige forretningsområder. Jeg har undervist internationale studerende i kommunikation, salg og forhandling. Jeg arbejder også som freelance tolk for EU.

Hvad tror du, borgere i dit hjemland er mest bekymret om, når det handler om Europa?
Den danske befolkning er delt i spørgsmålet om vores EU-medlemskab. Det er et lille land, der synes at frygte for at miste sin identitet i det store EU. Skeptikerne føler, at beslutningerne træffes langt væk fra deres hverdag. De anser sikkert også EU for at være for bureaukratisk – at beslutninger træffes med for lidt demokratisk accountability. Nogle danskere synes i særdeleshed at være bekymret over tilstrømningen af arbejdskraft fra Østeuropa. De værdsætter ikke forskelle. ”Vi ved bedre” synes at være følelsen blandt nogle danskere.

Hvad er dit største ønske for Europa?
Jeg håber, at Europa vil skabe såvel fysiske som mentale ”motorveje”, der vil gøre det meget lettere for europæerne at arbejde sammen, at opbygge virksomheder sammen og gøre forretninger sammen. Vi bør sætte pris på den store idé om det europæiske samarbejde, og derefter arbejde konstruktivt på at finde gode løsninger på hverdagens komplekse problemer. Jeg håber, at politikere, erhvervsfolk og den kulturelle sektor vil blive meget bedre til at kommunikere om Europa. Man skal altid være parat til at uddanne befolkningen om, hvorfor EU-medlemskabet er et stort aktiv, at vise en entusiasme og passion for projektet i stedet for at blive fanget i de små detaljer, der gør, at folk vender ryggen til Europa.

Hvordan kender du Morten Løkkegaard, og hvad mener du, er hans opgave i Bruxelles?
Jeg kender Morten Løkkegaard fra mit eget engagement i projektet om ”Den Nye Fortælling om Europa”. Hans arbejde bør baseres på 4 kerneværdier – nysgerrighed, åbenhed, respekt og empati. Han skal arbejde for, at Europa er på forkant med at finde konstruktive løsninger på de store problemer i verdenen. Han bør arbejde for en føderal struktur, hvor det bliver klart, hvad der skal løses på europæisk plan, og hvad der besluttes lokalt. Og han skal forsøge indgyde en ”vi kan gøre det”-holdning i de 500 millioner europæere.

Andre kommentarer?
Tak, fordi jeg fik muligheden for at bidrage. Held og lykke med projektet ”Hearts and Minds for Europe”.

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Povl Christian Henningsen: We need enthusiasm and passion to win back those who turned their backs on Europe!

Morten’s sparring partner
Age: 65
Nationality: Danish
Occupation: Owner of a consulting company
Hobbies: tennis, fitness, singing, literature
My link with Morten: we are connected in the context of A New Narrative for Europe


Are you actively taking part in the European project?

I work actively on European affairs in most activities of my professional life. I offer consulting services to companies, and communicating across cultures, international leadership and teambuilding are my key business areas. I have taught communication, sales and negotiation techniques to international business students and I also work as a freelance interpreter for the European Union.

Would you say the Danes are convinced Europeans?

The Danish population is split on the question of EU membership. It’s a small country that seems to fear losing its identity in a large European Union. Sceptics feel decisions are taken far away from their everyday life. They probably also look at the EU as something too bureaucratic – where decisions are taken with too little democratic accountability. Some Danes are worried about the influx of labour from Eastern Europe in particular. They do not seem to appreciate differences and intercultural dialogue. “We know better” seems to be their guiding principle.

What should Europe do to shift this public opinion to a more positive perspective?
I hope Europe will manage to build not only physical but also mental bridges and motorways that will make it much easier for Europeans to work together, start companies together, do business together. We should appreciate the grand idea of European cooperation and then work constructively to find good solutions to everyday, complex problems. I hope politicians, business people and the cultural sector will become much better in communicating about Europe. We should always be prepared to inform people about why EU membership is a great asset for all of us. We should show some enthusiasm and passion instead of getting caught up in nitty-gritty details that make people turn their backs on Europe.

Imagine Morten Løkkegaard were ‘your man’ inside the EU. What could he do to make things better?
Apart from installing a ‘Can Do’ attitude in 500 million Europeans (laughs), I think his work should be based on 4 CORE values – Curiosity, Openness, Respect and Empathy. He should make sure that Europe is at the forefront, finding constructive solutions to the major problems of our world. He should work for a federal European structure where it becomes clear what should be solved at European level and what is decided locally.

Curiosity, Openness, Respect and Empathy. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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Morten Løkkegaard: Europa braucht Menschen, die Europa vor Ort präsentieren und neu erklären!

“Wenn das Europäische Projekt weitergehen soll, müssen wir ein neues Leitmotiv finden.”

Der Journalist Morten Løkkegaard startet seine politische Karriere im Europäischen Parlament 2009, nachdem er zuvor bei mehreren dänischen Zeitungen und im nationalen Fernsehen gearbeitet hatte. Ihm liegt insbesondere am Herzen, dass jeder europäische Bürger die Vorteile des Binnenmarktes voll nutzen kann. Darüber hinaus arbeitet er als Mitglied im Europäischen Parlament im Kultur- und Bildungsausschuss (stellvertrender Vorsitzender) und im Bereich internationaler Handelsbeziehungen. Für Morten ist es wichtig, das Europa seine Geschichte immer wieder neu erfindet und neue Wege in der Kommunikation mit den BürgernInnen beschreitet. Europa braucht ein neues Leitmotiv. Er hofft, dass der europäische Integrationsprozess weitergeht, denn nur wenn Europa einig ist, werden seine Mitgliedstaaten in der globalisierten Welt bestehen können. Der vierfache Vater verbringt seine Freizeit gerne mit Tennis und Lesen.

Bildung, Kultur und Binnenmarkt. Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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Morten Løkkegaard: L’Europe a besoin de nombreux ancrages locaux qui renouvellent le discours européen!

“Si le projet européen veut survivre, un nouveau discours est nécessaire”

Morten s’est d’abord intéressé à la politique en tant que journaliste et présentateur de programmes télévisés spécialisés, avant d’en devenir un acteur lui-même, lorsqu’il a été élu au Parlement européen (PE) en 2009. Son expérience media lui sert souvent au sein des débats de la Commission Culture du PE, commission dont il est vice-président, mais aussi pour suivre les discussions sur l’économie digitale qui animent le Parlement européen. Pour Morten, le marché unique et la libre circulation des biens, des capitaux, des services et des travailleurs est le plus important acquis de l’Union. Cela reste un réservoir de croissance pour elle, et cette perspective est plus importante, selon lui, que le débat négatif sur le tourisme social. Mais l’Union doit apprendre à renouveler son discours sur les bénéfices qu’elle apporte à ses citoyens, au-delà des acquis de la paix sur le continent. Quand Morten ne travaille pas à cette réflexion sur le discours européen, il joue au tennis ou en profite pour passer du temps avec ses quatre enfants.

Education, Culture et Marché intérieur. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous!


 

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Leopold Radauer: Europe is a fascinating puzzle!

Nationality: Austrian
Hobbies: Music, books
Family status: Married, 2 children
Occupation: Deputy Director-General and head of protocol for the European Council. Retired since 1st March 2014.

Interview in Deutsch
Sommaire en français


You are Deputy Director-General at the European Council, what exactly does that mean?
I used to be Head of Personnel, which means that I was responsible for the 3,000 people working here at the Council. Since the Lisbon Treaty, and the reforms that came along with it, I am responsible for the buildings and the technical elements, for protocol as well as running a big conference centre.leopold radauer1

That seems like a lot for one man?
Well, I like to start early, so I can go through my mails and distribute the work that needs to be done. I am in a managerial position, but at the same time I have to be on the ground to make sure that the meetings run smoothly, the interpretation arrangements are in place, and the working lunches are prepared. And when heads of state or government are visiting the Council, it will be me – together with the President or on his behalf – who will welcome our guests on the red carpet.

The European integration process is not over. I am confident that Europe will evolve for the better.

That is a very diverse set of tasks. What aspect of your job do you like the most?
I like the fact that I work with different nationalities, languages and cultural backgrounds.
It is very rewarding and satisfying to see how well it all works. We now have staff from 28 countries working together, which is challenging. The Scandinavians, for example, like to come in very early, have short lunch breaks and leave the office rather early in the afternoon. Then we have colleagues from the Latin countries that tend to come in later, have longer lunch breaks but tend to stay long in the evening. They all work their hours and more, but they have to find compromises, as they have to work together and attend the same meetings. It’s a fascinating puzzle.

What do you hope Europe will achieve in the future?
I hope we will be even more than today the anchor of stability and prosperity for all the people in Europe. Europe is still developing. I see more countries joining – from the Balkans. I think Europe needs to be more transparent and the European Parliament should get its own right of initiative – that is important. The European integration process is not over. I am confident that Europe will evolve for the better – for all its citizens.

Leopold Radauer and King Abdullah II of Jordan

Leopold Radauer and King Abdullah II of Jordan

In a few months you will retire. What events will you remember in particular?
The day we finished the accession negotiations in Copenhagen for the ten countries that joined the Union in 2004. We were able to conclude this year-long process with only 2 hours of delay. This was a superb result. We celebrated by dancing till the early morning hours. And then, in 2012, I could accompany the President of the European Council, together with the Presidents of the European Commission and European Parliament, to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for the European Union and its citizens – a proud moment.

Have you always been a convinced European?
When I was a little boy and Austria was far off from EU membership, I remember that my father already had a EU sticker on his car. I did not know what that meant, but my father impressed on me why he was so fond of the European idea : At the age of 17 he was put into a uniform and sent to war. He saw people dying around him and he swore that this must never happen again on our continent, and that the borders that divide Europe have to go. That probably explains why I feel like an Austrian European more than just an Austrian.

Peace, Justice and Solidarity. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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Leopold Radauer: Europa ist ein faszinierendes Puzzle!

leopold radauer3Sie sind Stellvertretender Generaldirektor im Europäischen Rat, was machen Sie da?
Ich war zunächst Personalchef und damit zuständig für die 3000 Menschen, die im Sekretariat des Rates der Europäischen Union arbeiten. Seit dem Inkrafttreten des Lissabon Vertrags und der damit verbundenen Reformen, bin ich nun für die Gebäude, die gesamte Logistik und für das Protokoll zuständig. Der Rat, in dem sich die Minister der nationalen Regierungen der EU Staaten treffen, ist de facto ein großes Konferenzzentrum.

Das hört sich nach viel Arbeit an!
Ja, ich fange sehr früh am Morgen an. So kann ich alle E-Mails in Ruhe lesen, die Arbeit für den Tag planen und letzte Aufgaben verteilen. Ich habe eine Managementfunktion aber gleichzeitig bin ich gerne vor Ort, um darauf zu achten, dass in den Sitzungsräumen alles glatt läuft, dass die Verdolmetschung funktioniert, dass die Arbeitsessen perfekt vorbereitet sind etc.. Und wenn sich die Staats- und Regierungschefs der EU im Europäischen Rat treffen, bin ich es, der sie – zusammen mit dem Präsidenten des Europäischen Rates Hermann Van Rompuy oder in seiner Vertretung – am roten Teppich willkommen heißt.

Der europäische Einigungsprozess ist noch lange nicht vorbei. Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass sich Europe weiter zum Besseren hin entwickelt – im Interesse seiner Bürger.

Das ist ein breites Aufgabenfeld. Welcher Aspekt ihrer Arbeit gefällt Ihnen am meisten?
Mir gefällt, dass ich mit Mensch verschiedener Nationalität, Sprache und Kultur zusammenarbeiten darf. Es ist sehr befriedigend zu sehen, wie gut das funktioniert. Wir haben nun Mitarbeiter und Politiker aus 28 Staaten, das ist eine echte Herausforderung. Die Skandinavier z.B. kommen immer sehr früh an, haben kurze Mittagspausen und bleiben ungern spät abends. Die Kollegen aus den südlichen Ländern wiederum kommen später, machen längere Mittagspausen, aber bleiben dafür viel länger am Abend. Alle arbeiten viel, die BeamtInnen sicher mehr als sie nach der Arbeitszeitregelung müssten, aber wir müssen Kompromisse finden. Denn alle müssen in denselben und für dieselben Sitzungen arbeiten. Es ist ein faszinierendes logistisches Puzzle!

Was möchten Sie, dass die Europäische Union in der Zukunft erreicht?
Ich hoffe, dass die EU noch mehr als heute ein Hort der Stabilität und des Wohlstands für alle Völker Europas sein wird. Das gemeinsame Europa entwickelt sich noch. Einige Staaten, vor allem in Südosteuropa, werden der EU noch beitreten. Aber ich glaube auch, dass Europa transparenter werden muss und dass das Europäische Parlament in der Gesetzgebung ein Initiativrecht bekommen sollte. Das ist demokratiepolitsch wichtig. Der europäische Einigungsprozess ist noch lange nicht vorbei. Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass Europa sich weiter zum Besseren hin entwickelt – im Interesse seiner BürgerInnen.leopold radauer2

In ein paar Monaten gehen Sie in den Ruhestand. Welche Momente werden Sie in Erinnerung behalten?
Den Tag, an dem wir die Beitrittsverhandlungen mit den 10 Ländern abgeschlossen haben, die 2004 der EU beigetreten sind. Wir haben es geschafft, diesen jahrelangen Verhandlungsprozess nur 2 Stunden später als vorgesehen abzuschließen. Das war ein großartiger Erfolg! Wir haben ihn gefeiert und bis in den Morgen durchgetanzt. Und dann, in 2012 durfte ich die Präsidenten des Europäischen Rates, der Europäischen Kommission und des Europäischen Parlaments nach Oslo begleiten, wo sie den Nobelpreis für die Europäische Union und ihre Bürger entgegennahmen – das war ein Moment, in dem ich ehrlich stolz war.

Waren Sie immer schon ein überzeugter Europäer?
Ich erinnere mich, dass – als ich noch ein kleiner Bub und Österreich noch weit entfernt von einer EU Mitgliedschaft war – mein Vater schon einen EU-Aufkleber am Auto hatte. Ich wusste damals nicht, was das bedeutet, aber mein Vater hat mir später immer wieder erklärt, warum er ein begeisterter Europäer war. Als 17 Jähriger wurde er in eine Uniform gesteckt und in den Krieg geschickt. Er sah Leute um sich herum sterben und schwor sich, dass er alles dafür tun würde, dass das in Europa nie wieder passiert. Er war davon überzeugt, dass die trennenden Grenzen in Europa verschwinden müssen, um das zu erreichen. Das erklärt wohl, warum ich mich nicht nur als Österreicher, sondern als “Europäischer Österreicher” fühle.

Friede, Gerechtigkeit und Solidarität. Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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Leopold Radauer: L’Europe est un puzzle tellement fascinant!

« Demain, j’espère que l’Europe sera encore davantage la source de stabilité et de prospérité qu’elle a été jusqu’à présent pour les citoyens européens. »

Leopold RadauerEn tant que Chef du Protocole, Léopold accueille tous les Chefs d’état et de gouvernements qui rencontrent à Bruxelles le Président du Conseil européen. Mais il est également au service des centaines de représentants des gouvernements nationaux qui viennent y travailler tous les jours. A la veille de son départ à la retraite, il prend du recul sur son expérience de l’Europe. Ainsi, il aime à rappeler que dans son enfance, son pays, l’Autriche, était bien éloigné d’un destin européen.
C’est pourquoi Léopold estime qu’il n’est pas impossible que l’Union s’élargisse à de nouveaux membres, à mesure que l’Europe se développe. Pour autant, il aimerait que l’Union devienne plus transparente, et que demain le Parlement européen puisse directement proposer des projets de loi européenne, ce qu’il ne peut pas encore faire aujourd’hui. Quand il sera à la retraite, Léopold aura plus de temps à consacrer à ses deux enfants et à sa passion pour la musique. Mais pour encore quelques mois, il doit veiller au bon déroulement des milliers de réunions dont il a la charge !

Paix, Justice et Solidarité. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous!


 

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Malika Hamidi: L’Europe doit garder une identité ouverte et positive!

Nationalité: Française et Algerienne
Profession: Directeur général du “European Muslim Network”
Situation familiale: mariée, maman de 2 filles

Deutsche Zusammenfassung
English Summary

Vous êtes d’origine algérienne, née en France et vous habitez à Bruxelles. Ces identités sont-elles conflictuelles ou complémentaires ?
Il n’y a en réalité pas de conflit du tout: je peux être à la fois algérienne, européenne, française et musulmane. C’est plutôt en fonction des débats et des contextes que je décline chacune des facettes de mon identité. Et je crois que ma spiritualité nourrit toutes ces identités. Enfin, en Europe nous avons tous des identités qui se composent de différents éléments.Malika Hamidi2

Cette identité multiple, comment se reflète-t-elle dans votre activité professionnelle?
Je suis directeur général du réseau musulman européen, appelé en anglais le “European Muslim Network”. C’est un groupe de réflexion qui travaille sur la valeur ajoutée et les enjeux de la présence musulmane au cœur des sociétés européennes. Je travaille en parallèle sur une thèse au sujet du féminisme musulman, dans laquelle je cherche à combiner l’approche analytique et l’approche activiste, et rendre du pouvoir aux femmes musulmanes sur elles-mêmes. En somme, j’y propose une relecture du Coran dans une perspective féministe et ceci dans un contexte européen!

Je peux être à la fois algérienne, européenne, française et musulmane : ma spiritualité nourrit toutes ces identités.

Pouvez-vous nous en dire davantage?
Je crois que mon rôle en tant que femme musulmane c’est aussi de dénoncer les interprétations erronées du Coran, et rappeler le cœur du message de l’Islam, c’est à dire qu’il n’y a pas de différence et d’injustice entre l’homme et la femme. Pour vous donner un exemple concret; le European Muslim Network a lancé en 2008 une campagne au sujet des mariages forcés. Nous avons démarché à cette occasion les autorités européennes et des organisations de la société civile pour leur faire comprendre qu’ils ne pouvaient pas atteindre leurs objectifs s’ils ne travaillaient pas avec la communauté musulmane et les imams. Et pour leur prouver encore la valeur ajoutée de cette approche, nous avons organisé un débat entre des organisations musulmanes de Belgique et des eurodéputés au sujet des élections européennes de 2014.Malika Hamidi3

Pourquoi vous vous engagez pour l’Europe?
Parce qu’il faut que nous allions les uns vers les autres. Nous, les musulmans, nous devons relever le défi de relier deux univers auxquels nous appartenons: l’univers de référence musulman et les valeurs européennes. Nous devons essayer de mettre en symbiose les deux. Mon expérience de femme musulmane m’a appris que plus l’on s’implique dans les débats, plus on doit faire face à des résistances, mais je veux rester positive. Il en va pour moi de même que pour l’Europe: je crois qu’il ne faut pas se positionner de façon réactive et négative, il faut au contraire veiller à garder une identité ouverte et positive !

Egalité, Justice sociale, Respect de la dignité humaine. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous!

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Malika Hamidi: Europa muss offen und positiv bleiben!

“Europa heißt aufeinander zugehen. Wir Muslime müssen uns der Herausforderung stellen, sich für zwei Welten, denen wir angehören, einzusetzen: die muslimische Welt und die europäischen Werte”Malika Hamidi4

Für Malika Hamidi, Direktorin des Netzwerks europäischer Muslime, fühlt sich gleichzeitig als Algerierin, Europäerin, Französin und Muslimin. Sie tritt dafür einen offenen Dialog in Europa ein und wünscht sich Menschen mit einer “offenen Identität”, die sie nicht beschränkt, sondern ihnen Möglichkeiten und Perspektiven in Beziehuing mit anderen bietet.
Besonders liegt der Mutter zweier Töchter der islamische Feminismus am Herzen und den Koran aus der Sicht der Frauen und im europäischen Kontext zu lesen. In diesem Sinne organsierte ihr Netzwerk gemeinsam mit EU Abgeordneten eine Debatte anlässlich der Europawahlen 2014, dabei ging es unter anderem auch darum zu erklären, dass viele Probleme (wie z. B. die Verhinderung von Zwangsheiraten) besser im Dialog und gemeinsam mit den religiösen Amtsträgern (z. B. Imame) zu klären sind.

Gleichberechtigung, soziale Gerechtigkeit, Respekt und Menschenwürde: Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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Malika Hamidi: Europe must remain open and positive!

“I can be Algerian, European, French and Muslim all at the same time; my faith underpins all these different identities”Malika Hamidi5

Maliki Hamidi, director general of the European Muslim Network, was born in France of Algerian parents, but has never felt her dual nationality to be a problem. In fact, working in Brussels, she feels Algerian, European, French and Muslim all at the same time!
The European Muslim Network seeks to highlight the important role that Muslim religion and culture plays in today’s European society, and Hamidi has a particular interest in empowering Muslim women, notably through a rereading of the Qur’an from a feminist and European perspective.
For her, the message of Islam is clear: there is no difference and no injustice between men and women. That is one of the reasons why the Network launched a campaign against forced marriages in 2008, encouraging the European institution and other civil society organisations to work more closely with the Muslim community and with imams on this issue. A debate on the European elections between MEPs and Muslim organisations in Belgium is another recent highlight.
For her, Europe is about bringing people, values and cultures together. For Muslims, this means finding the right balance between the tenets of their faith and the values of the European society in which they live. This is not an easy task, but she is determined to remain positive – a quality she feels is important for the future of the EU as a whole!

Equality, Social justice, Respect for human dignity. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!


 

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Arnaldo Abruzzini: Keeping Europe’s feet on the ground

Nationality: Italian
Hobbies: Playing tennis and the clarinet
Family status: Divorced, three children
Occupation: Secretary-General, EUROCHAMBRES, the European Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry

Leggilo in italiano
Deutsche Zusammenfassung
Sommaire en français

Are you fond of living and working in Brussels, or is it just something that comes with the job?
Brussels is the capital of Europe, where decisions are being taken. If you want to influence decisions concerning Europe, you have to be here. I have been in Brussels for 15 years, and am passionate about living and working here, because it gives me the opportunity to represent the voices of 20 million businesses. That is huge!

Arnaldo Abruzzini - © EUROCHAMBRES

Arnaldo Abruzzini – © EUROCHAMBRES

My son and my daughters were born after the introduction of the euro. We, the generation before them, have been in ‘adaptation mode’ for years. My children are Europeans by birth.

Can you share this passion for the European project with the people back home?
It can be frustrating sometimes. When I meet my compatriots in Italy, I feel that we are failing to communicate the wider picture. People in Italy – and I am sure it is the same in other Member States – have their own national horizons. When you live in Brussels you have the impression that you can model and transform Europe. But when you travel to the Member States, you feel that you actually can’t. Coming to Brussels, I have realised that the Brussels institutions somehow live on a cloud, while they absolutely need to keep their feet on the ground.

Where do you think the EU’s communication is failing?
We have to be able to communicate about the good reasons for Europe, its benefits, and its successes. There are so many demonstrations to protest against how bad things are because of Europe. We need to reverse that process and tell people what we have achieved thanks to Europe. We have become the most important trading bloc in the world and we can have a say in the future of global economic development. We have a strong currency, despite some temporary difficulties, and an extraordinary internal market where our businesses can thrive. And a welfare system that is unique. But above all, we have developed a common vision among 500 million people who have historically always been divided and split up!

Is there such a thing as a European identity?
All depends on the topic. I feel European when I am speaking several languages in one and the same meeting, but when I drink my espresso I still feel really Roman. That hasn’t changed. But I do see some evolution. My son and my daughters were born after the introduction of the euro. We, the generation before them, have been in ‘adaptation mode’ for years. My children are Europeans by birth. That makes a great difference. It is most important for Europe to involve this young generation.

Prosperity, Equality, Globalisation. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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Arnaldo Abruzzini: Mantenendo l’Europa con i piedi per terra

Ti appassiona vivere e lavorare a Bruxelles, o è solo qualcosa che è legato al lavoro?
Bruxelles è la capitale d’Europa, dove vengono prese le decisioni . Se si vuole influenzare le decisioni riguardanti l’Europa, bisogna essere qui. Sono stato a Bruxelles per quindici anni, e mi stimola molto vivere e lavorare qui, anche perché mi dà l’opportunità di rappresentare la voce dei 20 milioni di imprese . Il che è una sfida enorme!

Mio figlio e le mie figlie hanno sempre e solo utilizzato l’euro. Noi – la generazione precedente – siamo stati in una ‘ modalità di adattamento ‘ per anni. I miei figli sono cittadini europei per nascita.

Puoi condividere questa passione per il progetto europeo con la gente del tuo paese?
Talvolta può essere frustrante. Quando incontro i miei compatrioti in Italia, sento che come Europa non riusciamo a comunicare il quadro più ampio. La gente in Italia – e sono sicuro che è lo stesso in altri Stati membri – hanno e mantengono spesso i loro orizzonti nazionali . Quando si vive a Bruxelles, si ha l’impressione che si può modellare e trasformare l’Europa. Ma quando sei in viaggio per gli Stati membri, si sente che in realtà ciò è molto più difficile. Arrivando a Bruxelles , ho capito che le istituzioni di Bruxelles in qualche modo vivono su una nuvola , mentre hanno assolutamente bisogno di tenere i piedi per terra.

Arnaldo Abruzzini - © EUROCHAMBERS

Arnaldo Abruzzini – © EUROCHAMBERS

Dove pensi che la comunicazione dell’UE stia fallendo?
Dobbiamo essere in grado di comunicare le buone ragioni per l’Europa , i suoi benefici e i suoi successi . Ci sono così tante manifestazioni per protestare contro l’Europa, come origine di molti mali che dobbiamo invertire questo processo e dire alla gente ciò che abbiamo realizzato grazie all’Europa . Come Europa siamo diventati il blocco commerciale più importante del mondo e possiamo avere una voce in capitolo nel futuro sviluppo economico globale. Abbiamo una moneta forte, al di là di incidenti temporanei , e un mercato interno straordinario dove le nostre aziende possono prosperare. E un sistema di welfare che è unico. Ma soprattutto abbiamo sviluppato una visione comune tra 500 milioni di persone che sono storicamente sempre stati divisi e frazionati!

Esiste un’identità europea?
Tutto dipende da cosa s’intende. Io mi sento europeo quando parlo diverse lingue in uno stesso incontro, ma quando bevo il mio caffè mi sento ancora molto romano. Questo non è cambiato, anche se vedo una certa evoluzione . Mio figlio e le mie figlie hanno sempre e solo utilizzato l’euro. Noi – la generazione precedente – siamo stati in una ‘ modalità di adattamento’ per anni. I miei figli sono cittadini europei per nascita. Questo fa una grande differenza. E l’Europa deve trovare il modo di coinvolgere questa giovane generazione nel proprio sviluppo.

Prosperità, Uguaglianza , Globalizzazione . L’Europa è il nostro futuro, tocca a noi!

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Arnaldo Abruzzini: Europa muss bürgernah sein!

“Wir haben eine starke Währung, trotz der derzeitigen Schwierigkeiten. Unser Binnenmarkt erlaubt unseren Unternehmen zu wachsen und Europas Wohlfahrtssystem ist einzigartig in der Welt.”

Der Italiener Arnaldo Abruzzini ist stolz darauf, dass er in seiner Rolle als Generalsekretär von Eurochambres (Europäische Vereinigung der Handels- und Industriekammern), 20 Millionen Unternehmer auf europäischer Ebene vertritt. Avber er weiss auch wie schwierig es ist, Europa den BürgernInnen zu vermitteln. In den EU Mitgliedsländern ist viel zu wenig über die Arbeit der EU und ihre Erfolge bekannt. Darin liegt eine der größten Herausforderungen für die EU Institutionen.
Die EU hat so viel erreicht und sollte darüber mehr sprechen. Auch trotz der derzeitigen Schwierigkeiten ist unsere Währung stark, Europa ist die wichtigste Wirtschaftsmacht in der Welt, ermöglicht ein einzigartiges Wohlfahrtssystem und einen gut funktionierenden Binnenmarkt, in dem unsere Unternehmen wachsen. Vor allem jedoch verbindet die 500 Millionen EuropäerInnen der gemeinsame Wunsch nach Frieden, Wohlstand und Stabilität.
Europäisch fühlt sich der Vater von drei Kindern, wenn er die vielen Sprachen nutzt, die er spricht, bei seinem Espresso ist er ganz Italiener. Arnaldo Abruzzini lebt und arbeitet seit 15 Jahren in Brüssel. In seiner Freizeit spielt er gerne Tennis und Klarinette.

Wohlstand, Gleichberechtigung, Globalisierung. Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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Arnaldo Abruzzini: Garder les pieds sur terre en Europe

“Nous sommes le bloc d’échanges le plus important du monde, et avons notre mot à dire sur le développent économique mondial. Nous avons une monnaie forte, malgré des difficultés temporaires, et un marché intérieur extraordinaire dont nos entreprises bénéficient. Et un système social unique.”

Arnaldo a fait toute sa carrière dans le privé, et s’occupe aujourd’hui de défendre les intérêts des 20 millions d’entreprises européennes auprès des institutions européennes. Il travaille à Bruxelles parce que c’est là que les décisions sont prises à l’échelle du continent. Quand il rentre en Italie, Arnaldo trouve souvent que ses interlocuteurs se limitent à leur horizon national, qu’ils le veuillent ou non, et qu’à Bruxelles, on oublie souvent les contraintes nationales. C’est pourquoi Arnaldo essaie de faire le lien, pour que les institutions gardent les pieds sur terre et que les entreprises prennent conscience des opportunités du marché unique. Avec la monnaie unique et un marché continental, les entreprises européennes peuvent trouver de nouvelles sources de croissance. Un continent de possibilités : les trois enfants d’Arnaldo le considère déjà comme une évidence.

Prospérité, Egalité, Mondialisation. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous!


 

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Clodagh Hourigan: Giving practical examples how the European Union makes a difference in our daily lives

Age: 53
Nationality: Irish
Occupation: Official at the European Parliament
Hobbies: Hiking, reading, collecting old travel guides (19th and early 20th Century!)
Languages you speak: English (mother tongue), French and Spanish
Favourite dish: Fish and cheese in virtually any shape or form, though not on the same plate

Une voix de France: L’amie de Clodagh
Deutsche Zusammenfassung
Sommaire en français

clodagh Hourigan1How did Europe and the European Union become part of your life?
For me, all began very early on with a natural curiosity for what might be going on elsewhere, coupled with the privilege of ‘freedom of movement’ from childhood – a father who worked for a national airline, a school exchange in Spain, and stints as an au pair in France throughout the seventies. I have a vivid memory of a map of the then European Community on the wall of our classroom in my final year in primary school – the six founding Member States were in pink, the island of Ireland was in green and blue, the United Kingdom next door was also blue. In 1971, I saw no reason why Ireland should not be pink, too.

The European Union has changed a lot since those days.
Over the last thirty years, Europe has witnessed extraordinary changes which would not have occurred if Europeans had not taken the time to get to know each other better. In 1983, I went to Brussels for a traineeship in the European Commission and then continued as a parliamentary assistant at the European Parliament, a job which I did for many years, working part-time while raising my family. I finally joined the Parliament’s administration in 1999 – first as a temporary agent and then in 2007 as an official.

Europe should move from a position of defence and self-justification to a more combative, positive stance when selling the good-news stories.

What does a parliamentary assistant at the European Parliament do and what do you do now?
As parliamentary assistant, you cover all aspects of parliamentary life – drafting reports and parliamentary questions for your Member of Parliament (MEP), speaking to visitors groups and lots more mundane tasks too, like organising files and travels for the MEP. I currently work in Parliament’s Accreditation Unit. In essence, accreditation means access to Parliament whether you are a MEP, an assistant, an official, an interest group representative or one of the thousands of visitors that enter Parliament each year. The European Parliament is the most open and most accessible Parliament in the world. Most meetings are public and are webstreamed on the internet.

What is it like receiving lots of visitors groups?
It’s a challenge – whether it is speaking to a group of visitors or participating in the ‘Back to School’ project, which allows EU officials to share their experience of Europe with secondary school pupils back home, or just having a robust discussion around a dinner table with friends and acquaintances who do not work in the European Institutions, but it is a challenge I enjoy.

How do you explain the European Union?
I like to give people practical examples of where Europe makes a difference in their daily lives –avoiding ‘euro-speak’ or insider jargon. There are lots of examples. In the area of environment, the EU has imposed standards where they were non-existent. In education, thousands of students have benefited from the Erasmus programme, teachers and academics have benefited from exchange and research programmes. The European Health Card allows you to get treatment in a public hospital throughout the EU. Due to the EU, we all enjoy lower roaming charges. In Ireland, I remind people, for instance, that prior to our EU membership, women in public service jobs had to give up work if they got married.

Out of all these examples what is Europe’s greatest success?
The greatest successes of Europe are equal rights for men and women and the Charter on Fundamental Rights, which is now anchored in the Treaty on the European Union. But also, as an islander, I still get a kick out of driving over borders on mainland Europe without having to show an ID, hiking in Germany and having a coffee on the other side of a stake in the ground in Austria or not being quite sure whether I am in France, Belgium or Luxembourg when on the N52. Free movement is a great success story, even if it is unfashionable at the moment.

clodagh hourigan3Europe has been a hot topic in Ireland on several occasions.
Irish people are used to talking about Europe as referenda on Treaty changes pop up regularly to shake up the debate. As a referendum campaign veteran, I can guarantee that there is nothing more dangerous than canvassing a late-night shopper during a European referendum campaign as they rush out of a supermarket with a laden trolley, whose plan A is to avoid engaging with you at all and whose plan B is to get your ankles with the above-mentioned vehicle should you succeed in making eye-contact. Almost every caddy stopped is a vote cast. The first obstacle to overcome is voter apathy! However, once engaged by listening carefully to people’s concerns first, it is possible to alleviate some of their scepticism, doubts, fears.

What makes communication about Europe so difficult?
In recent years, the achievements of the early years have been taken for granted and even filed away as irrelevant, while governments, our directly elected Members of Parliament and the other European Institutions get on with the difficult task of managing the interests of 500 million people, 28 nationalities and in 24 languages. Unfortunately, Member State governments have always found Brussels to be a convenient scapegoat for decisions which may be considered unpalatable by the home audience. If a policy is perceived to be removing or changing something, it is Europe’s fault but if it means giving something to the ‘troops’ back home then the Minister has fought hard and returns home with the prized trophy.

Clodagh and her mother

Clodagh and her mother

So Europe should work more on its communication strategy?
Pedalling negativity is easy. Europe is still loath to counteract untruths robustly, which leaves the path clear for the Eurosceptic mavericks to take the headlines. We should be reacting in a much more combative and systematic manner. Europe should move from a position of defence and self-justification to a more combative, positive stance when selling the good-news stories. However, there is a word of caution here – there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, this is one mistake we cannot afford to make.

Living in Brussels, when do you feel Irish?
When I talk about our sense of humour, I am a Dubliner because there is something unique, irrepressible, quick-witted and downright cheeky about Dublin humour, which is part of who I am. When I talk about craic [fun, amusement, entertaining company or conversation], I feel Irish because whether times are good or bad, Irish people always find time to empathise and tell a good story even – or maybe especially – when it is at one’s own expense.

Do you get your daily portion of laughs, working at the EU?
Working in a multicultural environment there are many funny moments. How do you greet somebody? Do you shake hands or faire la bise [to kiss each other on the cheek] –and if so, how many times? At the dinner table, do you use a side-plate or do you break bread and put it on the table? The list is endless.

Equal rights, Mobility, Peace. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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Brigitte de La Passardière: L’Europe doit être transparente!

L’amie de Clodagh
Nom: Brigitte de La Passardière
Age: 64 ans
Nationalité: Française
Occupation: Universitaire retraitée
Hobbies: Golf, ski, randonnée, concert

Brigitte de La Passardière

Brigitte, l’amie de Clodagh

Comment est-ce que vous connaissez Clodagh Hourigan ?
Au départ, c”est l’amie d’une de mes amies. Elle a pu très clairement m’expliquer en quoi consiste son travail à Bruxelles. Elle a rendu les institutions européennes, bien nébuleuses auparavant, plus accessibles et m’a montré qu’elle était bien au service des citoyens, malgré les arcanes de sa complexité. Il me semble que le rôle de la Commission Européenne devrait être mieux expliqué aux citoyens afin de rendre cette institution plus humaine, plus accessible et de mieux refléter son rôle au service des citoyens, et pour casser son image distante et sans lien direct avec les préoccupations des Européens.

Comment est-ce que les Français dans votre entourage voient le travail de l’Union ?
Les Français ont souvent tendance à dire que tous les problèmes sont dus à l’Europe et que, de fait, on leur impose beaucoup de choses sur lesquelles ils n’ont pas leur mot à dire.

L’Europe, est-elle présente dans votre vie quotidienne ?
En tant qu’universitaire (enseignante à Paris VI – Université Pierre et Marie Curie), j’ai été amenée à participer à plusieurs projets européens de recherche. A ce titre, j’ai eu l’occasion de travailler avec des universités et entreprises de différents pays. Par ailleurs, nous avons accueillis dans nos formations de nombreux jeunes étudiants dans le cadre du programme Erasmus.
Dans ma vie personnelle, l’impact n’est pas très marquant, même si je compte parmi mes amis plusieurs européens (Irlandais, Belge…). La seule réelle conséquence sur ma vie de tous les jours c’est le fait que la nouvelle norme européenne SEPA m’impose de passer au prélèvement bancaire dont jusqu’à présent je n’ai pas besoin. Combien de normes sont-elles ainsi décidées en haut lieu, plus contraignantes qu’utiles ? Je crois comprendre que cette norme SEPA pourrait avoir des failles du point de vue de la sécurité, ce qui m’inquiète, et que les garde-fous qui existent sont mal connus des personnes concernées.

Quelle doit être la plus grande priorité de l’Europe selon-vous?
L’Europe doit se préoccuper d’intégrer les populations qui viennent des pays de l’Est, et en particulier les Roms. Pour moi, une autre priorité serait que l’Europe soit plus visible en tant que force internationale et même militaire, et qu’elle parle davantage d’une même voix pour être plus audible.

Transparence et Information. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous!

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Clodagh Hourigan: Es gibt viele Beispiele dafür, dass Europa unser Leben positiv verändert

“Kritisieren ist einfach. Europa entgegnet Mythen und Unwahrheiten immer noch nicht überzeugend genug, was dem Euroskeptizismus freie Bahn lässt. Wir sollten dem viel energischer und systematisch entgegen treten.”

Wie vielen Iren liegt Clodagh Hourigan das Reisen im Blut: ihr Vater arbeitete für die nationale Fluglinie, sie selbst ging nach Spanien (Schulaustausch) und danach nach Frankreich (Au Pair). Schon als Kind wünschte sie sich, dass Irland Teil der Europäischen Union wird. Die Beamtin im EU Parlament startete ihre Karriere als Praktikantin, dann war sie Assistentin eines Abgeordneten bis sie sich schließlich 1999 für die Arbeit in der EU Parlamentsverwaltung entschied.
Für Clodagh ist es wichtig, praktisch zu erklären, wie Europa das tägliche Leben der Menschen positiv beeinflusst: vom Erasmus-Austauschprogramm für Studierende, über die Forschungsförderung bis zur europäischen Krankenversicherungskarte. Zu Hause in Irland erinnert sie die Menschen daran, dass vor dem Beitritt Irlands Frauen, die im öffentlichen Dienst tätig waren, nach der Heirat ihre Arbeit aufgeben mussten. Der größte Erfolg Europas ist für sie die Gleichberechtigung und die EU-Grundrechtecharta, die auch im Lissabonvertrag verankert ist.
Es ist natürlich eine Herausforderung, die Interessen von 500 Millionen Menschen in 28 Ländern immer unter einen Hut zu bringen. Leider preisen Mitgliedstaaten nach wie vor Erfolge Europas als ihre individuellen Erfolge an, wogegen sie für Kompromiss- oder unpopuläre Entscheidungen nicht die Verantwortung übernehmen wollen und “Brüssel” die Schuld zuweisen.
Clodagh Hourigan liebt den typischen Dubliner Humor; Irin ist sie ganz beim Gedanken an “craic” (irisches Wort für Spaß). Auf europäischer Ebene findet sie die verschiedenen Begrüßungsrituale, die jeder aus seinem Land mitbringt, eine lustige Herausforderung.

Gleichberechtigung, freier Personenverkehr, Friede: Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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Clodagh Hourigan: Les exemples de la valeur ajoutée de l’Europe sont nombreux dans nos vies quotidiennes

« C’est facile d’être négatif sur l’Europe, mais il faut aussi dire que l’Europe n’est pas assez combative pour démentir les contre-vérités dont se servent les eurosceptiques pour faire les gros titres. »

C’est peut être parce que les voyages font partie de l’histoire familiale de Clodagh qu’elle continue d’être fascinée par la possibilité de traverser trois pays en une heure, sans avoir à montrer son passeport. C’est sans doute sa curiosité de l’autre qui l’a conduit à quitter l’Irlande, son pays natal, et travailler pour le Parlement européen. Mais Clodagh reste attachée à ses racines quand elle explique qu’auparavant les irlandaises travaillant dans la fonction publique devaient démissionner une fois mariées, et que grâce à l’Union européenne les hommes et les femmes bénéficient désormais des mêmes droits partout en Europe.
Elle peut comme ça égrener les exemples de la valeur ajoutée de l’Union dans sa vie quotidienne, mais regrette que l’UE n’en fasse pas de même de façon plus systématique. Clodagh estime que, sans devenir arrogante pour autant, l’Union devrait devenir plus active et plus positive pour communiquer sur ses succès. Quand elle ne se promène pas sur le continent munie des guides de voyage anciens qu’elle collectionne, Clodagh a pris l’habitude de rencontrer régulièrement des élèves de son ancienne école pour leur expliquer ce que l’Europe leur apporte au quotidien.

Egalité des droits, Mobilité, Paix. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous!


 

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Gregorio de Castro: Europe is an ever growing family

Nationality: Spaniard – born in Galicia
Occupation: Political Assistant to the Director and Policy Advisor at the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion at the European Commission
Family Status: Married and father of 3 children
Hobbies: Cooking, oenology, football, snow-boarding, live music and photography

  • Léelo en Español
  • Another voice from Spain: Gregorio’s sparring partner
  • Deutsche Zusammenfassung
  • Sommaire en français

  • As a Spaniard living in Brussels, would you say it was it love at first sight?
    No, it was not. Brussels is a city that has to grow on you – but it was an immediate romance with the job market and the possibilities that it offered professionally. I did settle here, married and I am living a stable family life together with my 3 children.

    You work for the European Commission. What does Europe mean to you?
    I see Europe as an ever growing family. I believe we are destined to become more integrated. I think that we have learned in the past 5 or 6 years that in time of difficulties, we are able to work together. Despite our differences, we have also showed that we can find a common way forward. That everyone stands firmly behind the project of European integration. I truly believe that it is a project that can only grow in conviction and in size.20131017_2827

    Europe is everywhere and Brussels is just the engine of what Europe should be about.

    You work in the Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs. What does a typical day look like and what are the main projects you are working on?
    There is a great responsibility associated with working in DG Employment at the moment as a result of the worrying state of European labour markets. In my role as policy assistant to the director in charge of employment policies and Europe 2020 (the EU’s growth strategy), most of my time is dedicated to the coordination of the work in the units within our directorate. At present, this mainly concerns fighting youth unemployment and monitoring the implementation of the Council’s Youth Guarantee whereby Member States have committed to providing all young people under the age of 25 with a good quality offer of employment, education, traineeship or apprenticeship within four months of registering with an employment service. Other important projects occupying my time include the ongoing reform of the European Employment Services Network (EURES), participating in the workings of the European Semester and Green Jobs. I also often write strategic policy notes, revise briefings and speeches for our Commissioner and follow numerous internal committees.

    You know the European institutions from the inside, so what do you think should be at the top of the EU’s to-do list?
    When I left my home town in Spain to come to Brussels in 1999, my grandmother asked me: ‘So where is it that you are going exactly?’ to which I answered: “Well, I am going to Brussels. I will work there”. I saw her thinking, trying to recall where she knew this city from. And then she remembered: “Brussels, that is where Europe is?” That sentence of my grandmother is stuck in my head on a daily basis, because it is exactly this perception that we have to overcome. We have to show that Brussels is not the place where Europe is. Europe is everywhere and Brussels is just the engine of what Europe should be about.

    Prosperity, Peace, Respect. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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    Gregorio de Castro: Europa es una familia creciente

    Un español viviendo en Bruselas, acaso fue amor a primera vista?
    En absoluto fue amor a primera vista. Bruselas es una ciudad que cautiva lentamente, lo que si puedo decir es que de inmediato me rendí a las posibilidades profesionales que me ofrecía esta ciudad. Me asenté, me casé y tengo una vida feliz con mi mujer y mis tres hijos.

    Estás trabajando en la Comisión Europea. Qué significa para tí Bruselas?
    Considero que Europa es una familia que crece poco a poco y que un mayor grado de integración es inevitable y deseable. Estos últimos 5-6 años de crisis han demostrado que a pesar de las dificultades y diferencias de opinión Europa es capaz de encontrar soluciones consensuadas y avanzar juntos por un bien común. Creo sinceramente que el proyecto Europeo solo puede crecer en importancia y en tamaño.

    Europa está en todas partes y Bruselas es solo el motor que hace que la UE avance.

    Trabajas en la Dirección General de Empleo y Asuntos Sociales. Cómo es un día cualquiera en la oficina y cuáles son los principales proyectos que llevas?
    La responsabilidad de trabajar en esta Dirección General es muy grande debido a los tiempos que corren y la preocupante situación de mercado laboral Europeo. En mi función de asistente del Director de Políticas de Empleo y Europa 2020 (la estrategia de crecimiento de la UE), la mayor parte del tiempo lo paso coordinando el trabajo de las unidades de nuestra dirección principalmente en materia de empleo juvenil y más concretamente la Iniciativa de la Garantía Juvenil que el Consejo aprobó en 2012 y mediante la cual todos los jóvenes europeos de 18-25 años de edad han de recibir una oferta de educación, formación o empleo a los 4 meses de descolgarse del mercado laboral. Otros proyectos que ocupan mi tiempo son la reforma de la red Europea de Servicios Públicos de Empleo EURES, el ciclo de gobernanza económica conocido como el Semestre Europeo y los empleos verdes. Otras importante labores a las que dedico mi tiempo incluyen la redacción de notas estratégicas, seguimiento de comités internos y externos y revisión de discursos y briefings para nuestro Comisario y Director General.

    Tú conoces las instituciones Europeas desde dentro, en tú parecer cuáles deberían de ser las prioridades de la UE?
    Cuándo dejé España para venir a trabajar a Bruselas en 1999 mi abuela me preguntó, adonde te vas? A lo que yo le contesté ‘me voy a trabajar a Bruselas’ ella se quedó reflexionando un momento y a continuación me dijo ‘ah, sí ese sitio donde está Europa’. Esa frase me quedó grabada en la cabeza ya que debemos a toda costa superar esa percepción que tiene mucha gente de Bruselas. Los que trabajamos en esto hemos de demostrar que Europa está en todas partes y que Bruselas es solo el motor que hace que la UE avance.

    Prosperidad, Paz, Respeto. Europa es nuestro future y depende de nostros mismos.

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    José Francisco Morales Calderón: people should vote for the European Parliament!

    Gregorio’s sparring partner
    Name: José Francisco Morales Calderón
    Age: 40
    Profession: Director of Communication and External Relations at the Official Industrial Engineers’ Association of Madrid
    Hobbies: Reading, especially historical fiction and journalism, travelling and everything related to the world of motoring.
    Link with Gregorio de Castro: My relationship with Gregorio is familiar; we are cousins, on some occasions professional and above all friendly. To me he is a role model for EU citizens.

    How is the impact of the European Union felt in Madrid?
    I guess that the EU impacts my life in many ways. I know for example that many national directives are actually EU policies implemented by national governments. But the euro is probably the one thing that had the biggest impact on us all.

    And would you say that it is a positive impact?
    Every country in Europe is different, and that makes it very difficult to find a common policy that suits everyone. That’s why I suppose some people are not so happy to think that decisions are being taken over their heads by distant and anonymous institutions. You have to remember that Spain is on the periphery of Europe. It is easy to create the impression that Brussels is a far-away place. At the same time, the fact that we can all use the same currency, that we are able to travel freely, to work, live and shop anywhere in the EU without real restrictions is certainly an upside. It’s something that makes us feel very much at home in the EU.

    Where could the EU do more?
    I think the EU can still make a lot of progress in certain economic areas. Take car insurance for example. I think it should be possible to get car insurance in France, or to open a bank account in the UK, regardless of where I live. This is especially important for Spain, as these are crucial measures that would really help to improve our competitiveness. I also don’t think it would be a bad thing to decentralise some of the institutions to other EU countries. That would help to dispel the impression that everything is decided in Brussels.

    Is there anything Spain can do to make this happen?
    I think Spain should focus more on what role it wants to play in Europe. Take the EU elections for example. Turnout in Spain is always very low, and the problem is that many Spanish people simply don’t realize just how many important decisions are taken at the European level, and in particular by the European Parliament.

    Free movement of people, Democracy, Inclusiveness. Europe is our future. It’s up to all of us!

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    Gregorio de Castro:Europa ist eine Familie die wächst

    “Europa hat in den vergangenen fünf oder sechs Jahren gezeigt, dass wir auch in schwierigen Zeiten, zusammenarbeiten und Probleme lösen können.”

    Wenn die Stadt Brüssel auch nicht Liebe auf den ersten Blick war, so waren es für den Spanier Gregorio de Castro die vielfältigen Möglichkeiten, hier zu arbeiten.
    Der europabegeisterte Vater von drei Kindern arbeitet in der Generaldirektion für Beschäftigung der Kommission, die in der derzeitigen wirtschaftlichen Krise eine Schlüsselposition einnimmt. Durch seine Arbeit will Gregorio de Castro vermitteln, dass Brüssel nicht der Ort ist, wo “das gemeinsame Europa gebaut wird”. Die Europäische Union kann nur bestehen, wenn sie in allen Mitgliedsländern erfahrbar ist, bewusst mitgetragen und konkret gelebt wird. Brüssel ist für ihn nur der Motor Europas.
    Privat widmet sich der Spanier seiner Familie und zahlreichen Hobbies: neben Kochen, Weinkunde, und Fotografieren begeistert er sich für Fußball und Snowboarden.

    Wohlstand, Frieden, Respekt. Europa ist unsere Zukunft. Es liegt an uns allen!

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    Gregorio De Castro: L’Europe, c’est une famille qui s’agrandit

    “Je crois que l’Europe a appris ces 5 ou 6 dernières années que nous pouvons travailler ensemble pour faire face aux difficultés. Malgré nos différences, nous avons démontré que nous pouvions trouver des solutions communes.”

    Quand il a quitté l’Espagne pour Bruxelles en 1999, Gregorio a tout de suite été séduit par l’éventail des possibilités professionnelles qui s’offraient à lui. Ce père de famille travaille aujourd’hui sur les questions d’emploi, en particulier celui des jeunes. Pour lui, la réussite de l’Union européenne c’est de savoir au quotidien surmonter ses différences pour aborder ensemble les problèmes, et trouver ensemble les solutions. Gregorio se souvient que sa grand-mère associait l’Europe exclusivement à la capitale belge. Mais pour lui l’Europe est partout, et pas plus à Bruxelles qu’ailleurs.

    Prospérité, Paix, Respect. L’Europe est notre avenir. Cela ne tient qu’à nous !


     

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