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De Bragança a Bruxelas: por uma Europa mais coesa e mais social
O evento nacional da Conferência sobre o Futuro da Europa sob o tema “De Bragança a Bruxelas: por uma Europa mais coesa e mais social" decorre no dia 18 de fevereiro às 14h30 no Auditório Paulo Quintela, em Bragança, com a participação de Elisa Ferreira, Comissária Europeia responsável pela Coesão e Reformas, Ana Paula Zacarias, Secretária de Estado dos Assuntos Europeus, Sandra Pereira, Deputada ao Parlamento Europeu, Cristina Mendes Silva, Deputada à Assembleia da República, e Sara Falcão Casaca, Vice-Presidente do Conselho Económico e Social. As inscrições estão abertas para participação presencial até 15 de fevereiro. Pode também acompanhar via streaming nas contas de Facebook e de Twitter da Representação da Comissão Europeia em Portugal.
Nele serão abordadas temáticas relacionadas com a política regional europeia e a coesão territorial e com a política social europeia, analisando as lições tiradas, os desafios que enfrentamos e as soluções conjuntas que podemos encontrar.
Este evento acontece dois dias antes do prazo para incluir contribuições na plataforma: apenas as apresentadas até 20 de Fevereiro serão tidas em conta no relatório que será publicado a 17 de Março, permitindo que sejam publicadas em todas as línguas oficiais e que alimentem as Plenários e Grupos de Trabalho da Conferência. No entanto, a possibilidade de contribuir na plataforma permanecerá aberta após essa data para permitir que o debate continue em linha. Um relatório resumindo estas contribuições será preparado após o dia 9 de Maio.
O evento em Bragança é organizado pela Representação da Comissão Europeia em Portugal e está integrado no ciclo de debates nacionais da Conferência sobre o Futuro da Europa. Lançado a 28 de julho, este ciclo inclui eventos em vários pontos do país envolvendo um conjunto de entidades:
» Gabinete da Secretária de Estado dos Assuntos Europeus
» Assembleia da República
» Conselho Económico e Social
» Parlamento Europeu em Portugal
» Representação da Comissão Europeia em Portugal
» Associação Nacional de Municípios Portugueses
» Conselho Nacional de Juventude
A Conferência sobre o Futuro da Europa é um exercício da União Europeia centrado nos cidadãos, com uma dinâmica que parte da base para o topo, afirmando-se como um diálogo aberto, inclusivo e transparente que visa contribuir para um melhor conhecimento das preocupações e anseios da sociedade civil. Esta iniciativa pretende dar prioridade à participação dos cidadãos, com especial destaque aos jovens, e refletir a diversidade europeia, em termos de origem geográfica, género, idade, contexto socioeconómico e/ou nível de educação dos cidadãos. Tem ainda como objetivo levar a Europa para lá das suas capitais, chegando a todos os cantos da UE e reforçar a ligação entre os europeus e as instituições.
Três relatórios provisórios sobre a Plataforma Digital Multilingue foram preparados até agora desde o seu início, em Abril de 2021, e foram integrados nos trabalhos dos Painéis de Cidadãos e nas Plenários da Conferência. As últimas 2 sessões dos Painéis de Cidadãos Europeus terão lugar a 11-13 de Fevereiro e a 25-27 de Fevereiro.
Rua Abílio Beça 77, 5300-111 Bragança
Event reportA very well attended debate within the framework of the national Portuguese programme for the CoFE took place in Bragança, in the northernmost part of Portugal, on 18 February. There were more than 100 participants, of which the majority were students ensuring a lively debate with the speakers: Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, Secretary of State for European Affairs Ana Paula Zacarias, MEP Sandra Pereira, MP Cristina Mendes da Silva and Vice-President of Portuguese Economic and Social Council Sara Falcão Casaca. Journalist Diana Duarte moderated the debate and opened the exchanges by recalling the objectives of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFE) and its timing. The Mayor of Bragança, who hosted the meeting, welcomed participants, stressing the work done by the city to attract young people. In his opinion, the EU needs to promote “deep changes” to have a better-distributed purchasing power and healthcare and to create conditions for young people to have dignified lives. He left the suggestion to harmonize VAT in border zones to promote cohesion and to avoid differences. In order to launch the debate the audience answered three initial questions: “Do citizens in inland Portugal have fewer opportunities to study/work/live?” (88% YES), “Did EU funds help developing regions like Bragança?” (80% YES), “Does the EU have a positive impact in my life?” (96% YES). In her intervention, Commissioner Elisa Ferreira underlined the concern to promote convergence and accelerate the development of regions left behind. She recalled that Portugal was converging considerably until 2000, and then arrived at near 70% of the EU’s average GPD per capita level of development, at which a more structured approach to development is needed. The Commissioner stressed that the development of the interior was a shared responsibility and recalled that not all competences are European. For instance while health, culture and tourism are now covered by the EU funds, they are not EU competencies (although in emergency situations the EU can take a more prominent role). The EU brought funds to Portugal that improved infrastructure, health and education, but the responsibility to develop the country was not in the hands of the EU. European funds should not replace national budgets. The Commission cannot and should not impose on its Member States what they do in their territory. Correcting asymmetries should be a national goal, and the EU funds can only help. A community is as strong as its weakest link. Further interventions started with Secretary of State for European Affairs Ana Paula Zacarias, debating EU and national competences as being central in the context of the CoFE, calling it the biggest participatory democracy initiative that ever happened in the EU. She recalled the events that already happened in Portugal on different themes and stated how important it was to discuss cohesion in Bragança. MEP Sandra Pereira was of the opinion that EU instruments like the European Semester forced Portugal to cut public expenditure in areas such as health and education, promoting divergence and not convergence. She considered Portugal as a “victim” of these policies, such as the Common Agriculture Policy. Member of national Parliament Cristina Mendes Silva expressed the opinion that EU funds have been helping Portugal on the path for convergence and to improve citizens’ quality of life. She also called for citizens to be proactive so as to benefit from the different Recovery and Resilience Facility possibilities. The Vice President of the Economic and Social Council, Sara Falcão Casaca, underlined how the pandemic revealed the structural problems faced by societies, and that this was a moment to, collectively, try to eliminate all asymmetries, via EU funds and others, and to make Europe and Portugal a more cohesive and inclusive country that promotes dignity. A very lively debate followed with several young people/students asking questions to the speakers on different themes: - Incentives for young people to stay in Bragança/in the interior. - The need for jobs for young people to settle in the interior, bringing the question of the EU minimum wage directive to the table. - How can young people (including non-EU nationals) have access to European funds to create companies and implement business ideas. - How can funds reach those who really need them? - Portugal is not just Lisbon but it is also not only cities like Bragança. Are we just creating other urban poles and forgetting the rural areas where the agriculture sector is “dying”. - The role of the EU in leading the fourth industrial revolution and dealing with the challenges of the digital age. During the debate, the Secretary of State for the Interior, Isabel Ferreira, a Bragança native herself, recalled the need for a bottom-up approach and the need for funds to feed the strategies, and not the opposite. The Mayor of nearby Vimioso regretted that the lack of schools in the interior forced students to leave their towns and villages and to flock to bigger urban centers to study, putting into question the right to education. At the end of the debate the speakers summarised the questions to be followed and addressed: - More articulation is needed between the local, regional, national and European levels. The distance between the EU and its regions needs to be reduced (small rural areas are also part of the EU). - The distance between governments and citizens needs to be reduced. - Consideration needs to be given to policies that valorise rural areas and not only urban centers. There is the need for dynamic poles in cities and rural areas. Cohesion needs to be accelerated to reach the most isolated areas. - Strategic agents at local level need to be involved in the definition of politics and decentralised consultations should take place. - There is the need to work in network with plans for regional development. Regional development strategies need strong institutions, city councils, universities, banks, small and medium enterprises, non-governmental organisations. - For people to settle in the interior, infrastructures need to exist: schools, nurseries, homes. - Consideration needs to be given to the concerns of young people and students who aspire to have a job compatible with their qualifications and dignified salaries. - Democracy is not just to vote, it is also to participate. Citizens need to organize themselves and participate actively in policy making. Citizens do not always use all the instruments and means they have at their disposal (eg: public consultations) - Our objective is to have a competitive Europe with strategic autonomy that can deal with the digital and climate transitions but which is also a Social Europe. We need to go beyond words and deliver.
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