Press-release of the event "Towards an European Citizen's House" 6th September 2012
“You need to take it personally in order to be able to fight successfully not only for your cause but also for the society as a whole” said Ms. Meglena Kuneva, Honorary President of the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) and ex European Commissioner for Consumer Protection at a round table that she chaired in Brussels on 6 September 2012.
At the round table “Towards an European Citizen’s House”, Brussels based stakeholders – institutions, civil society organizations and media – discussed the progress and the prospects of the development of the European Citizen House as a successful capacity building and problem solving facility.
The progress in the realisation of the European Citizen House concept was presented by Ms Assya Kavrakova, its Program Manager. According to her “by the end of 2015, the European Citizen House should be fully operational both virtually and as a physical place in Brussels and in the Member States”. She underlined the prospects of having a “once in a life time opportunity” for the physical premises of the House due to the support and collaboration with the Etterbeek commune. “The three buildings situated in a public well-maintained and preserved park would easily serve the multifunctional use of “everything you need in Brussels, which is important because the House reflects the broad definition of European civil society which includes not only associations but also individual citizens", Assya Kavrakova explained.
Hans Mund from “Citizens-E” suggested to use the social media and the virtual house in order to engage citizens in the actual setting up of the house. “We have to provide people with the possibility to think about the house, build its history and create it from scratch. Those should be not only the young people but also the ageing people: those like my parents that would like to save the Euro. This will give them ownership of the project but will also connect the generations”.
“Problem-solving is the real issue, giving advice is one thing, helping people is something else” commented Mr. Tony Venables, Director of ECAS in response to a personal story shared by Mr. Dafydd ab lago who was forced to give three different surnames to his three children because they were born in 3 different EU countries. The case was an example of the kind of help and support that the European Citizen House provides to individuals.
“A virtual house is important, but the physical house needs to solve problems at local level. We have an opportunity to work bottom-up in a wonderful multicultural environment in Brussels and therefore we should do something now and the HOUSE is the thing to do!” confirmed Mr Denis Buckley, International president of the Irish in Europe Association.
Having a Multi-stakeholder platform which will ensure that the Citizen House project would be self-sustained in the future as well as keeping the European Citizen House “open” are the two key prerequisites for the success of this ambitious endeavor, the participants agreed at the end.
The wonderful idea of having a European Citizen House that could help reduce the gap between the EU Institutions and the citizens, in the interest of both as well as the gap between the citizens and the civil society organizations will come true only if we come together to make it happen.
The pictures of the event are available on our Facebook page.