Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (53)

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin


38 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if proposals for a major conference aimed at bringing the EU closer to its citizens during the Irish Presidency of the EU have been finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4196/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The Government is committed to better informing and engaging citizens about developments in the European Union. It has decided in that context to convene an informal ministerial conference during Ireland's Presidency to assess and review how the EU is communicated to its citizens. The conference will be chaired by Minister of State, Deputy Roche.

Ministers or Secretaries of State for European Affairs from existing and acceding states, and the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament, have been invited to participate in the conference which will take place on 7 and 8 April in Druids Glen, County Wicklow. The Presidency has also invited Ministers from Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and representatives from western Balkan states to attend.

On the first day of the conference, Ministers will discuss their experiences of communicating Europe to their citizens before assessing and reviewing the most effective strategies to raise wider public awareness and understanding about the EU.

On the second day of the conference, Ministers will meet with a delegation from Ireland's national forum on Europe and with representatives of European civil society organisations to exchange views on how to promote greater engagement by citizens in the European Union.

In preparation for the conference, a questionnaire has been circulated to all participants through the information working group in Brussels, which will assist the Presidency in defining the final conference agenda. Deputy Roche is also in continuing contact with his counterparts in other member states about the conference.

The conference will provide member states with an important opportunity to address the issues of communicating Europe more effectively and of promoting greater engagement of citizens with the EU.