On Monday 19 June, the city of Athens organised a citizens’ debate about Europe and what it means to its citizens. The event took the form of a direct dialogue between representatives of Athens civil society, the mayor of the city, Giorgos Kaminis, city elected representatives, and the president of the Committee of the Regions, Marku Markkula.
This Athens Citizens’ Debate was held in the framework of the Committee of the Regions initiative “Reflecting on Europe”, an initiative offering a space for citizens to present their concerns, thoughts and ideas about the future of Europe. Several debates have already taken place and others will be organised in other cities across Europe. The outcomes of those debates are aggregated and will be shared with the EU institutions.
The event had a fully participatory approach to create the conditions for dialogue between stakeholders centred on specific questions that were designed beforehand. Among the questions asked to participants, one focused on the obstacles encountered in striving for a European Union closer to its citizens’ concerns. Many participants highlighted the lack of communication between the different level of governance and citizens, and the lack of interconnection between cities’ governments and the EU in the design of policies.
The methodology undertaken for the event allowed new collective knowledge to arise, useful for both the city of Athens and the Committee of Regions. It also fostered the development of a stronger network to emerge both locally and wider. EUROCITIES will continue to work to link those initiatives coming from different cities.
During the evening, Mr. Kaminis, mayor of the city of Athens, pointed out that in cities people are able to participate in the decision-making process to design policies that will have consequences in their daily life. Cities being aware of their citizens’ needs, they would be the ones able to bridge the gap between them and the EU institutions. He concluded by saying that “the future belongs to the cities” and that their role should be considered for the future of Europe.
Please find more information about the discussions in the document hereunder.